FOMO to SOLO – Turning Fear into Acceptance of Missing Out

I do a lot of things.  In a normal week, I will work my full-time 9ish to 5ish job, and in the evenings, I will participate in at least one social event per night.  Sometimes these will be small-scale, and this week in particular, each night was spent with one or a few lovelies, making and/or consuming food of some kind before or after enjoying some form of art.

FOMO to SOLO - home base

Except last night. Last night was the night when a good portion of the city was outside frolicking in the multiple feet of freshly fallen snow.  A group of my friends in particular were toboozaning at Riverdale park, throwing themselves down the side of a ridiculously huge hill over and over again, while I stayed home with my candles and my incense and my tea and my thoughts.

I missed out on a good time. I know this because I woke up in the morning to the post-party text about how it was ‘sooooo good.’  My immediate reaction was not to feel a sense of joy for him; to be happy that he got to indulge in some well-deserved fun with buddies. My instant impulse, at 745 in the morning, was to pout at my phone, and roll over to try to sleep some more.  I, an almost 30 year old woman, who stuffs her life full of activities, couldn’t just feel empathic towards someone else’s experience of such fun, I had the sense that I needed to have been part of it also.

But If I had, I wouldn’t have had that hour-long conversation with one of my very best friends in Vancouver.  We wouldn’t have shared our recent adventures and accomplishments, our recommendations to each other for radio podcasts and articles. We wouldn’t have shared our plans for the next few years and I wouldn’t have learned the extremely flattering fact that he teaches his students, like I do on this blog, to Notice What You Notice.  That herbal tea combo would remain untested and my kitchen counter would still be covered with a layer of crumbs.  My closet would still be busting open with unworn clothes and, bizarrely, a dresser drawer full of papers(!?).  I wouldn’t have collected two full bags of goodies to donate to charity and I wouldn’t have found that pair of ski socks I love that I thought were gone forever. I wouldn’t have prepped my apartment for the slew of beautiful people who will fill it tonight with pot-lucked love in the celebration of the birth of two of my best friends, and the gearing up for the warm, boozie treats to be shared while we go DJ-skating.

FOMO to SOLO tea

Last April, I wrote an article about the loneliness of extraversion which has some words that are still incredibly relevant today:

Sharing these experiences with people is what fuels my life, but the problem with being an extrovert, and a busy, well-liked one at that (cry me a river, I know), is that in the moments when you’re not surrounded by love and friendship, you feel very much alone.

Empty spaces seem bigger. The quiet seems quieter.

I don’t always do so, but more often I need to. These lonely moments are necessary, particularly to an extrovert.

We function by way of external stimulation, but if we don’t give ourselves the time to wipe the slate clean, and to remember what it feels like to be unstimulated, we’re going to be in a state of sensory overload where we can’t even BE stimulated by the stimuli. We’ll just be trying to catch up with the alerts of the stimuli that just happened an hour ago, a minute ago, a second ago…

Extroverts! We need some time off! We need to trust ourselves that whatever activity we choose for the hour, afternoon, or even whole day, will be the BEST one.”

That piece was focused on the experience of not being tethered to our phones even when we are out doing fun things, but I wrote it after spending a beautiful solo afternoon in a park, just observing the squirrels and the children and the sounds of the early Spring.  It definitely relates to my sense of missing out last night and feelings of slight remorse this morning.

So, yah, I missed out on that good time last night in the snow. I have to accept that every single day I’m missing out on something. Even the times when I’m literally shrieking with joy because I’m having such a great time, I’m still missing out on some other good time that other people are having. I have to let it go.

One of the people who I look up to as a model and inspiration for slowing down and enjoying time with myself regularly makes the decision to have a bath and read instead of going out to frolic.  This doesn’t make her any less exhilarating on the next time she parties or participates in social activities.  She, and these are her words, generally thinks of the quiet slow moments as time to develop or replenish herself physically or emotionally.  After she gives herself this gift of personal restoration, it becomes clear to her that she’s not missing out on a thing. She’s just becoming a better version of her to share with others in the future. This will be a longer process for me, but I do believe it’s possible.

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