FOMO – The fear of missing out on something or someone more interesting, exciting or better than what we’re currently doing. Apparently, it’s a real thing.
YOLO — you only live once.
Let me begin by saying that I hate these acronyms. “Carpe diem” was just too eloquent and succinct? We need more O’s in our lives? We enjoy acronyms because we get to use capitalization without the implied screaming? Despite my unchecked rage at these combinations of letters, for the purposes of this post, I will choke down my disgust since they so accurately capture some of my feelings around this trip. YOLO, mofo.
I am a late bloomer. I didn’t play sports as a kid which is unfortunate as it turns out that I’m freakishly athletic (something I didn’t realize until very recently). I didn’t travel or do anything remotely adventurous despite being born and raised in the outdoor mecca that is Colorado. I didn’t go hiking, biking, camping, skiing or do anything “Coloradoan” until I was in college. I didn’t leave the state until I was 18 or 19, and I never left the country before I was 23. In so many ways, I never truly started living until my 20s.
Along with starting to come into my own, I have spent much of the last 10 years wishing that I’d done many things earlier in life. If I’d played sports at a younger age, I’d probably be way better than I am now. Whenever I go snowboarding, I enviously watch the baby groms shred the gnar effortlessly while I crash my way down the mountain. They learn so quickly and are fearless in their exploration of the world. I learned at 21 — old enough to be keenly aware of my frailties, limitations, and the costs of recklessness. How much better of a snowboarder / photographer / ultimate player / anythinger could I be now if I had started in my younger days?
My adult life has thus been pervaded by a general sense of YOLO. Because I feel as though I missed out on so many chances in my youth, I have a heightened sensitivity to FOMO and, in response, overcompensate. I see any opportunity as a fleeting chance that must be grasped by the horns and every ounce of enjoyment wrested from it. For a while, I forced myself to say yes to each adventure that presented itself because I didn’t want to “miss out” on any more living. Seize the day, right?
While this YOLO mentality has led to many amazing* experiences and friends, it is also exhausting. Constantly chasing the next adventure leaves me ignoring or overlooking the present moment. Happiness is elusive if it’s always just around the next corner, the next grand adventure, the next experience. While I was backpacking along the West Coast Trail in July, surrounded by epic beauty (and endless mud), I was already thinking about our RTW trip. I was missing out on the present by thinking of the future; FOMO was ruining my YOLO.
You’d think that with something as daunting as a year of travel lays ahead of us, I would be completely focused on that. Ironically, though, as I sit here on the edge of an adventure of a lifetime, I still find myself with FOMO. There are many other trips that our friends are doing while we’re gone: a boat trip in the British Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving, hut trips in the winter, Lei Out (my favorite tourney of the year), Mardi Gras & ultimate tourney in New Orleans, a trip to Africa to hike Kilimanjaro, etc. And what if this winter, after two crap seasons, we finally get good snow and I don’t get to crush any pow?! What if Molly makes a great run at Nationals and I miss it? It almost physically hurts when I consider that one.
It’s so irrational, this FOMO. I’m so caught up in never missing anything that I end up missing everything.
But whenever I get too lost in FOMO, I consider this: I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t precisely for all the events in my past, all things good and bad. Every little thing that has happened to me, including “missing out” on some opportunities, was instrumental in bringing me to this point. And this point, this very moment, is perfect. Not playing sports as a kid gave me the ability to truly appreciate playing them now and imbuing them with meaning. My unadventurous upbringing stoked my need to travel and made a trip like this possible, perhaps even imminent. “Missing out” on all those things eventually led me to where I am now, prepared me for what’s still to come. “Missing out” actually gifted me with a greater appreciation for these things today. Maybe it wasn’t really missing out at all but setting the stage for the next act.
I still firmly ascribe to saying yes often and making the most of every experience. However, instead of letting FOMO drive my YOLO, I want to appreciate each moment for what it is and not worry about what it would, could, or “should” have been. Live in the moment. Carpe diem.*YOLO has also occasionally led me into very bad situations. How, you might ask, does someone who CAN’T SWIM end up nearly drowning / getting smashed to bits in class 5 rapids in the Royal Gorge in high water? Oh, that “in the event of death” waiver was for real?! Sometimes, for me, YOLO translates into “poor decision making.”