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Reading: A Year Without FOMO

Mental Health

A Year Without FOMO

What if we all just decided to take life at a new leisurely pace?

By Lesley Jane Seymour

I had breakfast with my great New Orleans friend E. last Sunday. She’s the epitome — in my mind — of an uber-extrovert, the life of the party, the center of all attention. She’s the one who invited me during my first months as a NOLA newbie to a Friday lunch at one of the top restaurants in the city. I told my husband — who was still unpacking boxes — that I’d be home in an hour. 

I didn’t know E. very well at that point but imagined we’d sit across from each other, New-York-business-lunch-style, and compare notes about people we knew from the publishing world (she’s a writer and now has her own public relations firm down here). That all turned upside down when she walked into the restaurant and proceeded to make the rounds of each table, hugging and chatting with every old friend from high school and business. We ended up table-hopping until 6 pm, when I finally excused myself to get home to my husband, who probably thought I’d been kidnapped. After that, E. and her gang invited me to at least two other crazy parties where they all showed up in full-on costumes for Christmas or Mardi Gras, where people were singing and practically dancing on the tables.

So imagine my surprise when E. said she actually loved the pandemic lockdown. She loved the slower pace and the feeling of not having to be anywhere! She claims (though I’m not buying it) that she’s actually a secret introvert. That she is extremely happy to turn in early and not worry about missing out. I explained that as a true lark, staying out late is painful for me. Together we decided that what we really loved about the pandemic was that there was no Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Everyone was stuck inside doing the same thing: nothing.

Up until that conversation I wouldn’t have said I had FOMO. But I’m noticing I’m really anxious about what happens when everything opens up. Even though I now live in the town that likes to party all night, I really do like getting into my PJs by 10. Scrolling through social media, I notice confessions from other people quietly dreading returning to the old breakneck pace. So here’s my question: what if we all just say no? What if we decide instead to take life at a new leisurely pace? What if we get our sleep and get up early feeling rested and fabulous? Wouldn’t that be a great change? I’ve also decided we need to change the meaning of the acronym FOMO to Fear Of Moving Out. 

Are you secretly anxious about moving out into the world too? Let me know by posting your comments below or on our social media. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

  1. Harriet Riley

    Yes, yes, yes. I haven’t able to exactly define why I’m secretly nervous about everything opening up again. You totally nailed the reason I didn’t mind the pandemic. I enjoyed being home and having all the time to write and pursue creative projects mainly because I knew I wasn’t missing anything. I definitely have FOMO. I’m one of those people that – pre-pandemic – often double booked because I didn’t want to miss anything. Living in New Orleans where life is a constant party, makes my FOMO even worse. But I don’t want to be so busy again that I can’t find my creative center. I’ve to learn to squelch my fear of missing out and just find my bliss – sometimes going out and hearing live music or sitting around a large table with friends (both of which I’ve missed) but also sometimes staying in and watching a good movie or reading a book. I just put a sign up at my desk that says, “I’m a grown-ass lady and I do what I want.” I am going to let go of the FOMO.

  2. Suzanne

    I too am wondering, even a bit leery, of what is going to happen in the next year as we get vaccinated and decide we just can’t stay at home most of the time. I already have plans to travel (to wide-open spaces!), and a few non-specific weekends with friends. But when I have to really pull out the calendars and say, Yes, how enthusiastic will I be when I’m saying Yes for the fourth weekend in a row? I’m not sure. I do want to keep my social life slower (because with all the variants I don’t want to get exposed, even though I’m fully vaxxed). But I also am getting a bit bored. I think I will need to be mindful of what I’m getting myself into. If it starts to feel like too much, I won’t ignore that feeling and plunge ahead mindlessly. I’ll pay attention and scale back. Now, let’s see how my husband will feel about this . . . he’s more of an extrovert than I.

  3. Barbara Bigford

    I have to say looking back on the year and a half of being forced to slow down has been a welcomed change. I have found this new calmer life filled with more joy, creativity, and a sense of doing that thing we all so often hear about called “being more mindful and present”. And for me it had to take this momentous lock down to find it.

    Just like your friend I too have been involved over many years just about every social event and fundraising project in town. Although these events are fun, I would think “ good grief I’m so busy”. But did I stop? Heck no.

    However, moving forward I know for a fact that after experiencing all the joys of “ slowing down” and reconnecting with my family, helping out with my grand children and one on one visits walking with close friends, I will never want to lose this type of contentment.

    I now have an art studio in the house, a larger garden, and I’m learning golf! All the activities I always wanted to do but never thought I had the time.
    I’m so grateful. Now let’s all stay healthy too.

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