27 June, 2013
Saying no to FOMO and learning to ignore the Joneses
It seems to me we are a generation of perfectionists, always striving to achieve more than our minds and bodies can handle. These days it isn't about having a skill and being proud of it, it is about covering all bases and for some people feeling inadequate if they aren't scoring highly in every possible way. I am not entirely sure social media isn't to blame for this frenzied experience of the world many people are having these days. We have long since established that our generation are sufferers of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and it seems to be true that seeing the 'highlights' of other peoples lives plastered all over Twitter and Facebook and Instagram leaves people with a sense that they should be and could be doing more. It also seems to me that back in the day, when my parents were wee, this wasn't the case. People ran around outside, they read books and they helped their Mum's in the kitchen and they felt heartily satisfied with those pursuits. There wasn't always that pressure to be doing EVERYTHING and still finding the time to look perfect at the end of the day. I sometimes feel nostalgic for those days even though I wasn't around. Sometimes I just want to climb a tree, argue with my sisters and go to bed full of beans on toast. The simple life.
It takes a certain strength of character to ignore all that you could be doing, what other people are doing, and just do what you would do anyway, even if your life wasn't on centre stage like may of us seem to misguidedly believe that it is. I am grateful to not participate very much in the needing-to-keep-up culture, and it makes me sad when I see people so worried about what everyone else is doing all the time - I mean who cares about everyone else, if you're happy with your own choices? It's not about matching other people, it's about matching what suits you and I learnt that fairly early on in my 20's. But that doesn't mean I don't put myself under pressure in other ways and for other reasons.
I recently read a quote that inspired me all the more to make sure I don't just do things out of FOMO or because of the imagined effect it will have on how other people view me and my life. 'How many people would you impress if the whole world were blind?' - what would you do differently if nobody could see you? For me, I would relax more. I do a lot of things that I could afford to take a bit more of a break from a bit more often. Yet while I know I could put up my feet and switch off more than I do, I am confident that I don't live my life for show. Back in the day I may have suffered from FOMO, probably most prominently at university and in the few years following, but I am lucky to now have found interests and sources of happiness that are completely independent of anyone or anything else and I pursue them with all my heart. There's no room for keeping up with the Joneses here! Some people are born with that confidence, I had to learn it. I also learnt that all those smiley, happy, MY LIFE IS FABULOUS people - they still have their issues backstage, they just choose not to let it go under the spotlight. It takes a truer person to admit when the going is a little rough and those people are so much more endearing.
That said, I have found that the happiest people are the people who have something to call their own, something that means it really doesn't matter what everyone else is doing. FOMO is dead to them because all they want to do is run home and get on with whatever it is that they have discovered that makes them happy. And even if that thing runs them into the ground, it is always worth them doing. I know a few people who work themselves hard to live out their passions, each of them unique, and while they may be tired, they can go to bed every night with a big smile in their heart because they are living their life in a way that fulfils them. Hayley Jane Toothill, Abbi Rose, Matt Comras.People like this don't need to be 'on the scene' because they are living their dream.
I encourage everyone to find their 'thing', focus on it, ignore the crowds and the snapshots of percieved happiness in other people's lives and just to be so content with your own pursuit that competition really becomes irrelevant. It's a happy way to be. On that note, I am going to NOT feel guilty that I didn't play netball tonight as planned and instead baked biscuits (oops, my bad, had a bit of a gutting Thursday), I'm going to have a bath and catch up with my sofa solo. Yep, that's my perfect Thirsty Thursday.
Enjoy yours, even when the world isn't looking (which it's not).