I am experiencing FOMO right now, and I know it’s 100% on me. I’m not even talking about FOMO as in seeing how great everyone’s lives are on Facebook and wishing mine were the same. On that topic, however, I’ve been thinking how easy it is to cultivate a FOMO kind of life online. If I wanted to, I could do it in this manner. Post pictures of my trip to Malta last year. Post pics to Binghamton from a few weeks ago. Talk about how I’m going to Philly in a few months to visit my other BFF. Talk about learning sword in taiji and knowing it to the point where I’m impatient with swordplay I see in popular culture. Talk about my friends and how fortunate I am to have them. Post pictures of my cat, Shadow, especially the one I posted here in which he put himself in a timeout. I will note that he opened the drawer himself and then hopped in it. I rarely take pics of him these days, but that one was so adorable, I had to snap it. Wouldn’t you be filled with jealousy if you saw this cute face peering out at you from a drawer as you were sitting on the toilet?
I would also mention how I was eating ice cream for lunch (dairy-free, gluten-free) just because. Haagen Daz Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle Non-Dairy, to be precise. Want to know something funny? I think the store brand dairy-free ice cream at Target is better than any of the branded ones I’ve tried. I don’t go to Target that often, however, so Haagen Dazs is good in a pinch. I can eat the same thing every day if I want (and often do), though I’m not sure others would envy that. I don’t have to ask anyone for permission to do anything, and I just bought a video game yesterday without having to negotiate it. Granted, it was a ten dollar video game (on sale), but still. All decisions are made by me and me alone. I work from home and have a flexible schedule, and all the work I do can be done anywhere as long as I have a computer and a Dvorak keyboard. I can go to bed whenever I want and get up whenever I want*, and in general, am free from normal society constraints.
The biggest way I could make people jealous is by flaunting my child-free state. I have posted many times that I am positively gleeful to be child-free. I like children in theory, and I like them in small doses, but I do not like children more than, say, two hours at a time. By children, I mean kids under six. Six to ten, maybe four hours. Ten to eighteen, a day. I’d up that incrementally until the ‘kid’ turns thirty upon which they become full adults. Is that ageist? Yes. I’ve felt that way since I was a kid, however. I’ve always liked older people, and I have a hard time relating to anyone under thirty. But. I could post pictures of me doing adult things whenever I want–and by adult, I mean going to see a movie I want to see that doesn’t have Legos in it–having a drink at three in the afternoon if I drank, etc. I know that the purpose of an online presence is make other people jealous, but I don’t see the point. And, yes, I know that’s not the actual point for many people, but for some, it absolutely is.
The problem in doing that is that it’s all a lie. My life is mostly boring, and I know that I’m stuck. I know what I need to do to become unstuck, but I just can’t seem to do it. One reason is because what I need to do is multilayered. Or rather, what I want to do necessitates doing more than one thing.
The bigger issue with the kind of FOMO I’m having is that it’s based on the lives of my friends. Many of my friends are having exciting things happen to them which they richly deserve because they’ve worked fucking hard for them, and I’m ecstatic for them. I’m also jealous in the back of my brain because as I’ve mentioned, my life is stagnant. I know it’s completely my fault, and I know what I need to do to move forward, but I’m strangely reluctant to do it. Or rather, I can’t make myself take the steps needed to move in that direction.
My brother and I had a talk the other day about our respective talents, and he said I should use my ‘talent’ of drawing out conversation from other people to get paid. I was talking about how even when I deliberately try not to be friendly to other people, I still get them babbling at me their life stories. I had one cashier tell me about his relationship troubles and his dubious views on women, which was uncomfortable. I had my tree guy talk to me for half an hour about his depression after he called to tell me why he had been late (by months) to take care of the tree in my backyard. With the latter, I was making sure not to ask questions or act as if I was interested, but he wouldn’t stop talking. I know part of the problem is that I still use conversation fillers such as ‘I see’ and “wow, that’s hard’. Instead, I should have just guided the conversation back to my trees, but I felt bad for him. That’s my weakness–while I don’t like people in general, I feel an immense amount of empathy for each individual person. I know what it’s like to be depressed and lonely, wishing someone would care. I also know I can’t save everybody, or, indeed, anyone, but I still feel compelled to try. It’s my childhood, and I’m slowly getting better at it, but it’s still an issue.
There was a time when I could feel everyone’s negative emotions pouring into me, and I had a hard time shielding against it. I would walk into a room, and I immediately felt all the pain. Sometimes, walking by the person emanating the pain, I could even pinpoint the source of it (although, of course, I couldn’t be sure I was right without asking which I never did), which was depressing as hell. I wasn’t able to do the same with positive emotions, which meant going out in public was torture on me. Over time, I have learned to erect a shield, and it’s become second nature. I still can feel people’s pain, but it’s at such a muted level unless I really focus on it. I credit therapy and taiji, and it’s a relief not to have to be bombarded with waves of fear, terror, pain, and anguish every time I leave the house. That’s one of the reasons I’m a bit agoraphobic, by the way. It can be really wearying to go outside if I’m not having a good day. And, until roughly ten years ago, every day was a bad day.
I hate my life. Well, not hate exactly. I don’t like my life. Ugh. It’s not even that. I just don’t really want to be alive. I think that’s closer to the truth. I don’t want to die, exactly. Actually, I really don’t want to die because the concept freaks me out, but I don’t want to be alive, either. It’s the nastiest of conundrums, and I don’t know how to solve it. I often think why does it matter what I do when I’m just going to die in a few years anyway? A few years being anywhere from tomorrow to fifty. I know it’s part of my depression talking, but it’s reality as well. There is no bigger purpose to life, and, yes, that means it’s what we make of it, but I struggle with making anything of it at all.
I’m fortunate in that I can still feel true joy for my friends, so I don’t feel too shitty about being a little jealous. They’ve all worked fucking hard to get where they are, and they deserve the good things that are happening to them now. I just want to reach the point where I feel I deserve good things, too, but that means putting in the actual work. There’s no shortcut to it, I’m afraid, which makes me even less motivated to do anything. I know the answer is therapy. I know that I do not want to go to therapy. There was a question to Dear Prudence in the podcast from someone who was scornful that her girlfriend had been in therapy for nine years without having had a traumatic past. The letter writer had a sneering tone that did not sit well with me, and I was glad when Daniel and his guest, Harron, both told the LW she was in the wrong. They didn’t sugarcoat it or say, “Well, I can see why you would feel that way, but–“. They bluntly stated that there was nothing wrong with it and that she should explore why she was so uncomfortable with it. It hit me where I hurt, though. I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was fourteen, and I stayed with my last therapist for fifteen years. I’m not even close to done with therapy, but, emotionally, I am so done with therapy. I know I need to go again. I know I need something other than just talk therapy (but NOT CBT. I have a chip on my shoulder against it, and I realized why when a commenter at AAM said she didn’t like CBT because it was so dismissive of her feelings. “It’s just a feeling.” “I KNOW THAT. YOU’RE NOT HELPING.” She felt gaslit by the therapist, and that made perfect sense to me. I think CBT can be useful in some situations, but it gets tossed around way too much these days. It’s the new hottest. DBT is a different story), but I don’t want to have to go through the business of finding a new therapist. I know that whether I do or not, I’m going to have to go through the shit I’m going through, but finding a good therapist is not easy. Throw in the fact that I want someone who’s thoroughly aware of cultural issues, queer issues, and women’s issues, and, yeah, it’s not an easy ask here in Minnesota, even in the cities.
Still. The alternative is that I continue feeling like shit and hoping it gets better on its own. That has happened in all of never, so it’s most certainly not the answer.
*This is not so much a boon because my sleep is so fucking shitty, but no one online has to know that if I don’t want to share.