June 22, 2012

the tyranny of FOMO

I'm no good at bedtimes. I stay up too late and wake up just enough after when I should that I'll not be super late but also I definitely won't be on time. It's an annoying thing about me. And I get all, oh, it's fine, I'm a night owl! But really? My body likes sleep. Normal amounts of it even. If I stay up late doing something awesome, I can handle the consequences of that. But most of the time in retrospect I didn't do much of anything and I'm tired all the next day and it's really for no reason at all. It's just that when it comes to the end of a day, I panic. I think, I must write one more paragraph. Hang out for one more hour. Watch one more episode. Read one more chapter. Paint one more canvas. Write one more card. Clean my room, paint my nails, do some yoga, make a to-do list, book a flight, etc/so on/so forth until it's 1 AM, I have a full day ahead of me, and I'm not going to get nearly enough sleep to appease my poor, weary body. 

A while back this was defined for me clearly when I was with some friends and I made a comment about how I should leave now before I ended up staying for another 2 hours, as I am wont to do. One of the girls said knowingly, "Ahh yes. FOMO." At first I thought she was swearing at me, which was confusing, but then she explained: FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out.

I thought, No. Yes.
I don't have that. I absolutely do.
I'm just social and stuff. True, but also not.
It's fine. It for sure isn't.

FOMO is debilitating. And I'm not being dramatic for once, I think it's a genuinely terrible affliction to be afflicted with. It makes everything harder. Watch: What should I do on Friday? turns into What if I go dancing but I miss out on karaoke? and then What if I choose karaoke but then dancing ends up being way more fun? or better yet Should I go home for a weekend? becaaaaaaaause If I do, will I miss something in Denver? OR If I don't, will I miss something at home? horror of horrors What if the best thing ever to ever happen happens while I'm not present? and the grande finale WHAT IF I NEVER RECOVER FROM MISSING THIS ONE MOMENT/EVENT/TRIP/EVENING AT THE TAVERN? It's exhausting. I'm exhausted.

I'm going to be out of town essentially all but one weekend in July, and I was fine with that until I went through a whole slew of Facebook invites and realized I'll be missing kind of a lot of stuff. Per usual, panic ensued. See, I was the kid who never missed school if I was sick because I didn't want to miss being line leader or lunch table conversation or having gym class with the boy I had a crush on. I was the girl who didn't study abroad in college because I didn't want to miss beach weekends and Kappa parties. And while I like to think I'm getting more mature as I age, apparently this is a thing I'm still doing. I have somehow talked myself into believing that I need to be everywhere all the time or I won't be ok. That's ridiculous. Any way you slice it, I'm going to miss things. And what I have to learn now, at the ripe old age of 27, is that it's fine. I'm fine. My relationships are strong enough to survive me missing a party or two. And probably sometimes I'm going to decide to do one thing, then have some regret and wish I'd done the other. I'm going to feel left out every now and again. Especially if I'm not in the Party Pics, but whatever, that's fine too.

The real yucky part of this, for me, is acknowledging that I'm afraid. I'm social and extroverted, yeah. I like to keep busy, sure. But more than that, I am deeply and significantly fearful of missing out - to a degree that interferes with my actual functioning [in that I panic on the daily and sleep far less than I maybe should]. So far, though, living like this hasn't done anything but make me tired, and I'm over feeling panicky every time I have to make a decision. I realized today that liberating myself from the tyranny of FOMO may be as simple as learning to pay attention to what I actually want to be doing in a given moment instead of what I think I shouldn't miss. That's the trick of it. Oh, and I may or may not need to ask my new roommates to enforce my bedtime on school nights. I'm sure that won't be a weird conversation.

So I'm going to miss things. Lots of things, probably. And I'm going to occasionally have to choose sleep and self-care over socializing, which will be a hard thing for me. And if sometimes I want to stay up late and paint my nails or see a superhero movie for half price or read a good book, I can do that too. I'm a grown up and it's my call. And because I'm me, I'll probably still hang out an hour too long or stay up all night painting or read a chapter too many from time to time. But it won't be because I'm afraid not to. 

No comments: