I sit at home on Saturday evening and groan into the couch with indecisiveness. After an endless work week, all I want to do is cement myself to the cushions and let my eyes glaze over to some mindless Netflix special. My partner proposes a solution while I argue in a tantrum-like manner that she doesn’t understand, I don’t want to do anything, but I want to do something. The dilemma that most people experience at various points in life (one we now define as FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out), reinforced by the social-media prescribed need to constantly be doing, hits hard this time of the year. I, too, become challenged by the trappings of being physically and emotionally exhausted, but wanting to continue to exhaust myself for the sake of my ego (and possibly a good story).
An inflammatory loop plays perpetually in my head whenever I am faced with quiet weekends; a basic skill I lack is deciding to do nothing and then being able to settle into it with ease. The loop starts like this and says: You’re about to waste another weekend. Then, What’s another weekend when you’ll be alive for at least 60 more years? And are you really wasting it by resting? Before: You shouldn’t be resting this much, you’re young and you don’t work as hard as some people do. This is the side of myself that a therapist once described to me as ‘Bruno’, the voice in your head that is against you, no matter what. Bruno and I are on OK terms, until he starts with the wasted youth argument.
Now that summer holidays are within view and plans to have ‘the best summer ever’ are set, I think about the cultural component that our need to make all of these plans balances upon. Why, after an entire year of working, (save for weekends, where the pressure to be doing things is concentrated down into a mere 60 hours) do we feel the need to cram as much ‘doing’ as we possibly can into the three weeks that should be reserved for decompression? As we have all come to conclude, social media plays a vast and nuanced role in spreading our will to share everything and anything thin. Paired with a season where you can’t log into Instagram without seeing every single person you follow either at the beach, hanging out with friends, lounging in desirable locations or day drinking on rooftops, while you sit on your parents’ lounge three days after Christmas and eat cold ham off your chest, and you quickly find yourself back at the first paragraph, feeling the way I did this past weekend.
Fear Of Missing Out is perhaps not even the right term to articulate such a varied discussion. It feels as though I’m more afraid of not having ‘lived’ than missing out on one isolated event or party. How interesting it is that our measure of ‘living’ is calculated based off the number of sociable and cool things you’ve experienced over the years (and how many people know about it), instead of just existing in our bodies and moving through the world in the ways that feel comfortable and authentic to us.
Our need to validate ourselves via the internet has hit fever pitch, and is hopefully on the way to fizzling out. In the meantime, treat yourself with kindness as you navigate through the holiday season. Say no to people who mean less and yes to people who are worth it, tell your personal Bruno to get a life, sit on the couch for the entire three weeks if you need the rest and relish in the idea that no one is thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about you.