The Unrelenting Nature of FOMO

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I should be working on homework right now. I should be responding to emails. I should be editing, filming, thinking about new ideas and new content. But instead I’m sitting on my bed listening to the duet of both my new Sinatra record and the sound of Oprah and Gayle munching on hay.

Ever since school has started up, I’ve been slacking on my blog. I knew it would happen this way; it always does. My days get filled with work and school, and instead of sitting down between classes to write my next post, I’m running from one meeting to the next trying desperately not to be late.

It’s like this every year. I say that I’m not going to get as busy as I usually do. I say I’m going to set clear and strict boundaries for myself. But I’m in the perpetual habit of not knowing how to say “no”. And I think I’ve developed a serious case of FOMO.

The term “FOMO” was introduced to me this past summer. I don’t know how I wasn’t aware of it before; it practically defines my college existence. FOMO = Fear of missing out. And I’ve got it bad.

It wasn’t always this way. Although I’ve always been a relatively involved student, I also found myself saying “no” a lot back in high school. If I didn’t want to do something, I wouldn’t do it. And more significantly, I didn’t worry about the consequences.

My mother raised me to be an independent woman, and I definitely exuded an attitude of “always doing my own thing” in high school. But as I came upon graduation during my senior year and as I entered into college, I started to realize how much I had missed out on. I started to realize that there were so many experiences, people, and places I would never have the chance to repeat.

So half-way through my 1st year of college, I decided I would not miss out on the next four years of my life. I wouldn’t spend most of my days hanging out in my dorm room or the library. I would research and join clubs I was interested in. I would apply for jobs on campus and internships in the area. I would make the most of my college experience, and I wouldn’t say no to new experiences, new people, and new opportunities.

Well… I stuck to my word. And sophomore year just about killed me.

I was overcommitted, incredibly stressed, and unable to balance it all. There were at least a dozen times throughout the school year when I broke down and threatened to drop one or all of my commitments just so I could sleep a full 8 hours. Those breakdowns never actually resulted in me cutting down on anything. I would just cry out my frustrations and start all over the next day. At the end of sophomore year, I said no more. I will not repeat this again.

Which brings us here. It’s 11:04 pm. I have a class in the morning and I haven’t finished the book for it. I have four jobs on campus, 2 internships, and a blog to run. I also have friends and family that I adore very much that deserve my time and attention. Basically, it’s sophomore year all over again.

Except… It isn’t. Somehow this year isn’t going so bad at all. Even though my days are just as long as before, I have a new energy in me that I didn’t have before. I’m enjoying my involvements and commitments, and whenever I’m feeling incredibly stressed, I remind myself that this is what I chose. This is the life that I cultivate. My theory is that despite nothing slowing down, I’ve learned how to run alongside life a little better. I know how to prioritize and manage a busy schedule now.

I like being busy. I like running from thing to thing. I like meeting new people everyday. I like having each day look different than the next. I don’t know if this is exactly healthy, and a close friend of mine recently tried to be my psychologist and asked “Ali, have you asked yourself why you like to be so busy?” 

Yes. Yes, I have. And it’s a multifaceted answer. In some ways, I’ve always been this way. I’m a product of the “go go go” consumer/producer American mentality. In other ways, this is the best way I know how to heal. I’m more productive when I’m slammed. I’m more creative when I’m bouncing from thing to thing. These are the times when I know best how to take any pain from my past and turn it into art.

Call me a busy body. Call me overcommitted. Call me the physical embodiment of FOMO. I may be all those things, but I am much, much more.

Despite my never-ending commitments, I also find myself to be a thoughtful person. I’m thinking a lot more than I’m doing, and I am not afraid to slow down. Unlike my 18-year-old self, I know how to say no. It just turns out I like saying “YES” to life a whole lot more.

For those of you that follow my blog consistently, I apologize for my lack of content. That is indeed a negative affect of my busy schedule. But don’t you worry – I’m always thinking of new ideas, new posts, new concepts I want to explore.. And all these new experiences are giving me endless inspiration and countless stories that I can’t wait to create and share with you all.

Now I’ve just got to find the time…

 Do you experience FOMO? Tweet me some of your stories! 

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