Finding Yourself Through FOMO
“Sometimes the new you is the self that you were always meant to be.”
This won’t be that amazing boho blog, where the heroine blogger can travel anywhere she wants, because she somehow makes mad bank off her blog. For she has reached “The Pinnacle,” both figurative and literal—she stands on top of an obscure lavender canyon in the Southwest with her gorgeous kimono top (only $200!) draped perfectly over outstretched arms. She does not need the generous coverage of a kimono top, because she is so slim and ultra photogenic. The sun loves her, and so do her 1,000 plus followers. Did I mention that she has such “pinnacle” moments all the time, and they are all meticulously catalogued?
I am not that girl, and I have chosen not to be a second rate version of her. I wanted to be her and those alike, for years. Now, all of that has changed. I realized that when you focus upon achieving some ultimate version of yourself, your true potential will wither in the face of an illusion: That is a tragic and all too common tale.
I believe that the journey of life for most consists of two great questions: “Who am I? and “Why am I here?” By nature, the answers shouldn’t be so clear cut. I now agree with Rilke that we should “Live the questions now.” But in an era of great diversions, you can find yourself searching for answers in some unworthy places, especially if you are a seeker type.
My late night scroll through Instagram is a good example. Social media made me do it- feel sad and envious. Not entirely, but it’s an easy path to find yourself winding down.
First, on my Instagram journey, I saw a picture of my favorite cat in the whole world, whom I may never see again in person. Her pet parent had recently decided to end our friendship of many years. A mutual acquaintance just captured the most lovely picture of the languid feline, and has likely taken my place as a cat sitter. I miss this kitty even more now. My former friend, not nearly as much. It’s hard to miss someone who admitted they “judge the [expletive] out of you.” If cats judge you, you can bet it’s for good reason.
Next, I stumbled upon a picture of an estranged friend. She fills my feed with endless pictures of herself in vintage stores, scoring the most impressive goods. I both wish I had the time and money for that level of vintage hunting, yet find her obsession a bit disconcerting. We reconnected briefly in this past winter after seeing each other out for the first time in years. We messaged online for a bit, and eventually I asked her if she would like to meet at the Salvation Army on a Wednesday (50% off for Family Day!). She never responded. A few days later, she posted a picture of herself there with another friend. Obviously, I didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason.
Finally, there appeared a smiling couple of the Scrantosphere (the “scene”) glitterati ilk on the beach. Their skin is pale and perfect (I hope they wore lots of sunscreen!). I do not have any complaints in the romance department. I married my soulmate (yes, they exist!) in May and couldn’t be happier. But, everyone envies beach frolickers, especially of the hip variety. So hip, they always manage to get at least 50 likes on their posts.
One person’s apparent virtual glee can become another’s private pathos. I am happy to report that I circumvented the madness, and stopped fifteen minutes into my Instagram scroll (I used to waste hours on social media ruminations, sadly). There were online Scrabble games to be played and pages of Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? to be read (excellent memoir, by the way). Also, I had at least five things to be thankful for, and needed to jot them down in my gratitude journal. This is a fun and easy practice that has been shown to increase positive thinking in a practical way. I can attest to its benefits.
I know that FOMO (acronym for fear of missing out) is totally normal and affects even the most introverted and enlightened of souls. We are social and curious creatures by nature. There was a period only a few years ago when FOMO ruled my life as if it were a clinical condition. It didn’t help that I fed it amply with pictures on Facebook of parties I wasn’t invited to, cool clothes I didn’t have, destinations I didn’t travel to. Digital acquaintances were viewed with a vague hostility, because I thought for sure that they not only had some advantage over me, but also had rejected somehow since I wasn’t included in their excitement. The truth was, I had no idea how their lives really were. When I saw people in person, I was hardly open or friendly because of all of the assumptions I had built up, and the petty grievances I carried.
There comes a time when you realize that the grievances that you carry are about as flattering and useful as the kind of clothes you need to donate to the aforementioned Sal Val. They are past season and no longer fit , so why are you still wearing them? Who is really under there? I have been asking myself that quite earnestly in my thirties, and become less afraid of the answers with each passing year.
The truth is, there was nothing to miss out on in the first place. My friend of so many years outright rejected me. People reject us all the time, but we can remain resilient, and become even more of who we are meant to be after honest reflection. My invite was never accepted, and many were not extended to me. But there is no need to wait for one when you can take yourself wherever you would like, or join those who truly care about you. Another couple’s beach vacation has nothing to do with my life. So, it’s best to focus most of my attention on mine and make it as awesome as possible. I hope you will do the same.
P.S. I did take myself to the Sal Val and stumbled upon a super sweet floral kimono top. With the Wednesday discount, it was only $2.00. I wore it on my honeymoon in Hawaii. I don’t have an Instagram pic, because I want you to use use your imagination and I choose not to foster more FOMO. 😉