FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Could there be a more typically millennial expression? It’s something I’ve always struggled with (who hasn’t?), but I didn’t expect to feel this way half a world away from my normal life.
Poor me, right? This kind of existential angst can definitely be categorized under #FirstWorldProblems. I’m getting to travel through Europe, and I’m worried that I’m not… not what?
Doing it the right way? Enriching my life enough? What exactly am I worried about? And how am I supposed to make it right if I don’t even know what is wrong?
This kind of questioning also ties into my personal concepts of achievement and productivity. Although I realize this is an ableist concept, it’s hard not to buy into when society promotes it so actively. There’s also a satisfaction in being able to check something off a to-do list… but is the flip side, of feeling even more anxious when I can’t, worth it?
This generalized anxiety that I’m not doing things right is something that I struggle with regarding bigger life decisions as well. Should I go to grad school? Should I move to Europe? With any choice, what do I sacrifice? Am I achieving something concrete, something that will further my life goals, by travelling? I’m enjoying myself, but is that enough?
But maybe the most important question is: does any of this really matter?
Whenever I tell my boyfriend about these thoughts, he reminds me that this is the same as everyone else. “That’s normal,” he says. “Everyone feels that way sometimes.”
This drives me crazy.
I don’t want to be just like everyone else. I want to be special. Even in the things that scare me, I want to be unique.
But the truth is that he’s right. I’m not unique. These thoughts aren’t revolutionary, and writing this isn’t going to change my life or anyone else’s. Choosing something will always imply losing something else, and I have to make my peace with that.
Something I know about myself: I am perpetually scared no matter what choice I make. Scared of missing out, scared of failing.
Something else I know: that probably isn’t going to change. I don’t know how to make this fear go away; all I can do is try to push past it.
The questions that I ask myself are exactly the same as other people. Everything is okay, or will be. Everyone’s achievements happen in different ways and at different paces, and that’s okay. The only wrong path to choose is letting fear hold me back.