On the Fear of Missing Out, a Deem People Story
I'm Dave, and I have FOMO.
FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, is defined by Merriam-WebsterDictionary as the “fear of not being included in something (such as an interesting or enjoyable activity) that others are experiencing.”
I went undiagnosed with this condition for decades. I suspected something was different as a child: I was always envious of my classmates who could celebrate their birthdays during the school year. Not only did they have a party at home, they also could celebrate in school by bringing treats for the class and having a party. We were treated like royalty and the schoolyard center of attention for the day.
As an adult, I now understand that a summer birthday away from the limelight of an entire schoolyard of kids meant that I had a fear of missing out on an experience that other people enjoy.
June is my birthday month. Now that my school days are long (long, long) gone, I now embrace all the wonderful things we usher in during June to celebrate summer: Flag Day, Fathers’ Day, Juneteenth, LGTBQ+ Pride, and National Smile Day.
BTW, NationalSmile Day happens to share my June 15 birthday — Kohl’s Gift Cards preferred. (Wink! Wink! Nudge! Nudge!)
June is a month where we gather outside and celebrate summer together – street fairs, parades, pride celebrations, backyard BBQs, concerts, pool parties, vacations, and road trips.
My husband (also a David) and I planned an epic 2-week road trip in a few years ago to celebrate our joint 50th birthdays. Starting from Denver, we plotted, planned, and spreadsheeted every minute. We were loosely following the California National Historic Trail to Napa Valley (our celebration destination), then loosely following the Pony Express National Historic Trail home.
Stops along the way included Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Craters of the Moon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and a long, meditative saunter through Nevada on Highway 50, dubbed “the loneliest road in America”.
We loaded up the convertible with virtually everything we needed for a top-down, fun-in-the-sun, summer road trip extravaganza, including plenty of sunscreen (for driving during the day) and wine (for hotel room R&R at night.) Nothing could go wrong with such a meticulously planned adventure. That is, until we got in the car.
David felt a stabbing pain in his leg. The pain initially was soothed by the heated seats but got progressively worse driving from Colorado to Wyoming to Idaho to Nevada. He could hardly walk by the time we got to Napa Valley on my birthday. No amount of wine could alleviate his sciatic nerve pain.
So just five days into our adventure, we abandoned all further plans and headed back home to get him into physical therapy. This trip was the unfortunate definition of “the best laid plans …” saying.
We decided that 2020 would be our do-over year with a trip to London. And then 2020 became the year where trips and vacations ended before they even started.
I had to re-evaluate my FOMO during the pandemic. There were no events that other people were attending for me to miss out on. People weren’t traveling, so there were no vacations to miss out on. Pride was cancelled, concerts were cancelled, weddings were cancelled. With everything cancelled, what could I possibly miss out on?
I really hoped that with everything cancelled I could embrace JOMO, or the Joy Of Missing Out. But I got caught up in the HomeEdit, home cooking challenges, and scrapbooking trends. I even planted a victory garden from seed. I learned that Goodwill refuses Christmas items in the summer, that my cereal is not happy unless displayed in a clear bin, and that I do not have the patience for making sourdough bread.
On a positive note, I am almost done with my cookbook — I documented over 150 pandemic recipes — and freely admit that I’m more skilled with DoorDash and Grubhub. (My husband does not have FOMO on my cooking!)
My virtual vacation last year involved scrolling through my iPhone and sending images to Walgreens photo for prints. I got to relive each minute in Paris, Rome, Dublin, and Napa while sliding the prints into their individual sleeves in my album. Now our travel journeys are tidily tucked into old-timey photo albums in addition to my heart, mind, and the cloud.
I’ve decided to enjoy missing out on purchasing sock drawer organizers and clear pantry bins and invest in making new memories by traveling. I’d rather see my bookshelves lined with photo albums than my Special-K runway ready in the pantry or my socks dutifully lined up for attention in the dresser drawer.
It’s been well over a year since I’ve set foot in an airport. Airports have a scent about them that’s hard to describe. Fresh brewed coffee mixed with hints fast food and overtones of Duty Free perfume and undertones of jet fuel and … it’s indescribable, yet recognizable. The scent has faded from my recent memory but I know will come flooding back on my first step in the door.
Daydreaming and longing for the sights, sounds, and scents of travel has hit me throughout the year. We made a pact while watching “TheSound of Music” at Christmas: Austria is our next big adventure. I ordered the Rick Steves guide to Vienna and Salzburg faster than you can sing How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.
I’m working on replacing spreadsheets and FOMO with a RWTF (Roll With The Flow) attitude. I will not accept JOMO, but instead will MENE (Maximize Every New Experience) and simply embrace the JOBM (Joy Of Being Me).
PS: TTFN is a sign-off for “ta-ta-for-now” (OMG, LOL)
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