With every dandelion and tulip that bursts through the dirt, I find a new “save the date” card in the mail. It’s refrigerator magnet season, and that’s what’s cool about warmer days ahead. I think.
Like birds hopping from budding branch to budding branch, we humans are scurrying everywhere, celebrating all the events spring and summer bring. I’m personally thrilled. But also pre-exhausted.
What to wear? What to gift? What of FOMO?
FOMO, for those of you who never check the urban dictionary, is Fear of Missing Out. It’s a generalized feeling of anxiety or social pressure when we know happenings are happening. We feel compelled to attend every gathering or party. We pollinate our Instagram accounts and maybe question why.
But no matter how FOMO you might be, or even if you’re a genuine social butterfly, none of us is above Murphy’s Law. After endless weekends with nothing going on, it is the human condition to be invited to two or more occasions scheduled at the same time.
I’m currently facing a weekend I had been looking forward to for months. Until a faraway can’t-miss family event popped up. After briefly shaking my fists at the universe, I calmed down and made a choice. But not without noticing there was nothing going on the surrounding weekends. My calendar for those days went something like Saturday: Drool. Sunday: Relax. Then another Saturday: Buy paper towels. And the day after that: Dust mop, and drool some more. Thanks Murphy, you jerk.
It’s a nice plot twist, though, to see signs I’m becoming a bit more zen and objective about scheduling conflicts. As I get older I’m developing skills for another state of being, JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out. It’s the hair flip to FOMO, and it’s delicious.
Last year Psychology Today published an article on the subject, which included a JOMO poem by Michael Leunig:
“Oh the joy of missing out.
When the world begins to shout
And rush towards that shining thing;
The latest bit of mental bling-
Trying to have it, see it, do it,
You simply know you won’t go through it;
The anxious clamoring and need
This restless hungry thing to feed.
Instead you feel the loveliness;
The pleasure of your emptiness.
You spurn the treasure on the shelf
In favour of your peaceful self;
Without regret, without a doubt.
Oh the joy of missing out.”
I’m finally realizing when you don’t attend or do one thing, you’re still somewhere else, hopefully making the best of your time. With quiet activities that bring one joy, or perhaps sharing smiles with people who matter. It’s a little tricky when you have dear ones clustered in different time zones, but I guess the full state of JOMO is a high art that takes practice.
Sure, I wanted to watch my husband finish a running competition he’d been training for, and then go to a splashy event that same evening. I needed to be elsewhere during these memory-makers. It’s all OK. My out-of-town deal, I realized at decision time, was important to a gang I care about.
Plus, I reminded myself the sudden new plans would allow me to get decent sleep, because running races are crack of dawn hell for spectators. And splashy evening events can turn into marathons of holding forced conversations while shifting one’s weight from one uncomfortable shoe to the other.
It sounds like I’m rationalizing, doesn’t it? But JOMO is here to wave away that thought. It’s a mindset along the bloom-where-you-plant-yourself spectrum. What a perfect way to kick off spring.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DeniseSnodell