I started young with the FoMo.
There’s a story my family tell, often and to a lot of people, about a trip to the funfair on Southsea Pier when I was about 3. Apparently, I went on every possible ride. Some I even went on twice. Then when we were leaving the pier to go home, I looked crestfallen and my mother asked what was wrong. “We didn’t get any candy floss!” was my plaintive reply.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to do all the things. I made fun of my Mum at the time when, on holiday, we were in a wine region and she wanted to go to the mushroom museum. But now I think, ‘hey, I’m glad we went! Otherwise I’d always have wondered about it.’ (All I learned: growing mushrooms involves a lot of…um…compost. And for boys of any age, the ‘shiitake’ is the most hilarious fungus.)
My bucket list is lengthy, and I worry, more often than I probably should, that I won’t get to see every place I want to see. I miss parts of conversations and immediately want to know what’s been said. I take ages over menus because what if I never eat there again? I want to make sure I got something really good.
All of these are examples of things I’m trying to let go of because in the end, it all comes from fear. Maybe it wasn’t that way to start off with, when I was very little I just had the appetite for life- rides and slides and candyfloss, oh my! I’d like to get back to that. But to do that, I need to extract and deal with the creeping fear that has wrapped itself around that zest. It goes back at least 20 years, longer in face. Facing being bullied at school, which often took the form of deliberate exclusion, I started to associate missing out on things with being judged, and found wanting. Missing out on things meant people didn’t like me, and at the time I had precious little self-esteem to show that thought up for the lie it was. It was made worse by bullies who dispensed such nuggets of wisdom as, when I was invited to a party, “don’t go, she only invited you to be polite”.
But I’m not a teenager any more. I have friends who care about me as much as I care about them. I’m discovering, and trying my best to hold on to the idea, that the world is full of love and miracles. There are more than enough to go around. I don’t have to act from fear, especially from fear of missing out. It’s not healthy, and it stops me making decisions about how to use my time in the way that will be best for me.
I can’t do everything. But I can do some. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to explore, and adventure, and learn and see as much as I can. Getting rid of the fear of missing out means I can do that in a way that will bring more good into my life, a way that will mean that all that experience is something I can use to expand, to be a gift of love to the world, rather than clinging to my experiences and memories like a miser hoarding gold coins. I want to do enough to feel that I’ve put my own truth into an old saying:
“You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”
Who’s with me?