Cultivating JOMO (The-Joy-Of-Missing-Out)

third year caela gray

photo by Avni Ahuja

photo by Avni Ahuja

It’s comforting to envision the future through rose-tinted glasses. Who wants to think about the tough reality that reaching your goals will require more hard work, late nights, and sacrifices than you could predict? I know I don’t. So when the busy starts overtaking your free time, instead of feeling sorry for yourself that you’re “missing out” or shame that you’re not living up to a popularized definition of a social life, remember you’ve made a conscious decision about what’s worth your time. 

The paradox of FOMO, or the fear-of-missing-out, is that every person has unique life experiences. Any notion that there’s a fixed bucket list of checkable items that must be completed— or otherwise you’ve lived a “lesser” life than others— is ridiculous. Creating a business demands persistence. Becoming a master in an art or sport means becoming a master in patience. Learning how to code an innovative app probably isn’t going to be as easy as learning to ride a bike.

The point is, you’re in control of deciding what’s worth your time. When you’re pushing yourself to reach a goal, it’s probably not going to be sunshine and rainbows 24/7, and that’s okay. Feeling frustrated? Stressed? Monotonous? Congratulations! You’re in the thick of human existence. Life’s an endurance test, and it's often the not so fun nitty-gritty work that’s essential to your success and happiness in the long run. Though that’s not to say you won’t ever have jaw-droppingly cool and fun experiences along the way. 

Finding your way in the world, especially in the transitional period of early adulthood, is meant to be a struggle. As much as we’d all like it to be, the “Process” is not a collection of consistent golden moments. But it doesn’t have to be all doom-and-gloom either. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or defeated, ask yourself, “is the hard work I’m doing worth it to me?”

If your answer is yes, then keep grinding. In our overindulged, photoshopped, hustle-culture dominated world, it’s easy to play the comparison game. In case no one has told you yet, worrying about what other people are doing with their lives or what they might think about yours is a waste of precious time and energy.

 If your answer is no, don’t judge yourself for not wanting whatever it is. You are not less important than anyone else or lacking in anything just because you have different values. You have the right to change your mind. You are allowed to make active decisions about what’s best for you. Embrace the present moment and revel in the benefits that come from intentionally prioritizing what brings you happiness. 

 Choose to find the joy in your drive, in your fascinations, and in pursuing something greater than the status quo. Choose to feel confident in dedicating yourself to your interests, without being trapped by perpetual people-pleasing. Consider the possibility that the key to the life you’ve been dreaming of just might be the joy of missing out.

Happy Monday