I’ve been struggling with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) lately, and it’s making me uncomfortable. Amazing things have happened to friends of mine, and I’m ecstatic for them because they have worked hard and earned the amazing things. That’s not the part making me uncomfortable, obviously, but it’s the following mental thoughts that I’m loath to admit.
Let me backtrack just a little bit. I’ve been feeling stuck for–well, my whole life, but especially the last year. I’m painfully aware of how quickly time is slipping away from me, and the years are piling up at an alarming rate. I don’t give a shit about my age as a number, but the fact that I went from thirty-seven to forty-seven in seemingly a blink of the eye. I’ve been having a hard time accepting that I’m now an Old and have become even more invisible* in general society. I see people in their early thirties that I find attractive, and it’s sobering to realize they probably view me as a mom-type. There is a group I belong to on Facebook in which I feel like the Solicitous Aunt (or as the RKG boys call it, Agony Aunt) of the group. I’m sure I’m old enough to be many of their mothers, and it holds me back from fully participating. Not just because I’m an Old (and a woman to boot), but because I simply cannot relate to much of what they ‘re talking about.
Side note: I’m not a video game enthusiast as much as I’m a Dark Souls enthusiast. In addition, I don’t like playing on a console, and most of the people in the aforementioned group are dedicated console players. I hate hand-helds for many reasons, and I really can’t see any reason not to game on a PC if you can afford it. I know a PC is more expensive than a console (though it doesn’t have to be exceedingly so), but games are much cheaper because there are ever-sales on Steam, whereas games on the consoles rarely go on sale. When they do, they even more rarely go more than 50% off. On Steam, you can get games for a buck on the regular. Granted, not Triple A games, but it makes it easy in theory to dabble in games that are interesting, but I don’t want to spend a ton on.
Spoiler: I don’t want to spend more than fifteen dollars on any game because I’m cheap. There are a few exceptions, such as I will buy any FromSoft game at any price at this point. Well, within reason. I would love to play Deracine, but I’m not buying the PS VR to play it. Not only would it be the only game I would play on the PS VR, I get violently nauseous with VR. It’s a shame, though, because the game looks lovely, and I would play the hell out of it if it were a non-VR game.
Back to FOMO.
I’m not jealous of my friends in the way of wishing I had what they did. Nor do I wish they it didn’t happen to them because they worked goddamn hard for what they have, and I’m proud of and excited for them. It’s more me looking at how they’re bettering themselves and thinking why the hell am I spinning my wheels?
In a word, it’s fear. Fear of failure. fear of success. Fear of being judged. Fear of being ignored. Fear of offending anyone. Fear of offending no one. If there’s a fear to be had, then I will have it. It doesn’t matter if it’s rational or not (and in fact, most of them are not); I will have it, regardless. It’s funny. I have a taiji classmate who is a very anxious person. It’s hard for me to deal with because it reminds me of my mother–and myself. I have a running commentary in my head of all the negative things I could possibly think. It’s much quieter now than it was twenty years ago, and I can ignore it for the most part, but when it insists on being heard, there’s not much I can do about it.
I’ve said before that one thing I really admire about my brother is his ability to jump into something new with minimal planning, just assuming it’ll work out. Granted, it doesn’t always, but then he puts it behind him and moves on. He doesn’t get bogged down in ‘what ifs’ or regrets. He once told me that he didn’t regret anything in his life, which baffled the hell out of me. I regret almost everything in my life to a big or small extent. To be clear, I don’t think it’s a good to regret nothing, but I would gladly take it over regretting everything. He did clarify later on that he was being hyperbolic when he said that, but in his mind, since he can’t change anything, why bother with regret?
You know the saying that people regret things they don’t do more than the things they do? I don’t agree. Or rather, the reason why this is true is a faulty one. If you’ve not done something, you can ascribe anything you want to it, whereas if you’ve done something, there are finite ways you can speculate about what happened since it actually occurred. That’s why it’s not a good thing to be fixated on what you haven’t done because you can never know how that would have turned out. For example. I wish twenty years ago I had continued doing theater and one-woman shows around. It was the only thing that made me feel alive at the time and broke me out of my depression. I stopped doing it for various reasons, and in my darkest days, it’s easy to think, “If only I had continued, I would have been a respected local character actor by now” or something similar. But, the converse could be true. I might have started doing really shitty work because writing one-woman shows took a lot out of me, and then I could have become bitter, entrenched, and ended up doing the same performance over and over to ever-dwindling audiences.
I’m not saying either of these were going to happen (the most likely possibility was that I’d continue sporadically performing and getting a momentary boost from it); my point is that it’s easy to imagine a predicted outcome, but rarely does reality match the dream. A more concrete example. The second time I had to deal with anorexia/bulimia, it started out as a diet. I was going to be sensible this time and not exercise seven hours a day. I was not going to slide into disordered behavior (and I gave away the ending before even starting this story), and I was going to finally overcome my eating disorders. Yeah, no. I kept moving the goal posts until I ended up fainting at a concert at First Ave because I had skipped eating so I could drink a drink or two. Of all the imagined endings to that journey, being passed out on a dance club’s floor and being carried off by a security guard was not even close to being one of them.
I’ve shared this anecdote before, but it’s apt so I’m sharing it again. Before I moved to San Francisco to get my MA, I was peppering my therapists with ‘what ifs’. My mind was overflowing with them, and I couldn’t get over my anxieties. She stopped me after several minutes and said, “Minna, half the things you’re saying right now will never happen, and you can’t imagine half of the things that will happen.” I know it sounds trite, but it really stuck with me, and it’s something I try to tell myself even now. The problem is, it’s hard for me to see my fears as not objective reality, even when I intellectually know they’re not rational.
I know the answer to this is to get back into therapy, and it’s been years since I ended it with my last therapist. I’m so tired of therapy, though. I’ve been in and out of it since I was fourteen, and I know what my goddamn issues are, damn it. Still. I obviously need help getting past it or I would be way past where I am today.
*Half-sarcastic, half-serious comment on older women being unseen in general society once they are past obviously fertile years.