Author’s note: FOMO is an acronym for fear of missing out, and was coined in 2004 by Patrick J. McGinnis.
If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that my plans to attend the 2017 Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit (#sfs17) were derailed as a result of visa-related bureaucracy. I’d been planning for the trip all year. I’d even secured sponsorship with SheVibe and made plans to spank the night away. It was supposed to be my one trip home in 2017 — first for Woodhull, then for a family visit and to attend the wedding of one of my oldest friends.
Then it came to a grinding halt, and the FOMO began to set in.
You Have to Feel Your Feelings
Was I mad? Absolutely. Was I sad? Fuck yeah, I was sad!
In a way, I was lucky, because this news came amidst some wonderful news and some terrible news. It was sort of like being hit with so many waves that you just drop, hoping to wait it out, trying to make it just a little closer to shore. We were moving! Finally! We had a house to move into! But, I was losing my best friend, who was slipping away almost day by day to old age and heart failure. Somewhere in the middle was my lost trip home.
Processing everything at once was impossible. What actually happened was that my emotions cycled. I would cry, mostly over the loss of Daphne. I would get excited about moving and spend a few hours looking for jobs and sprucing up my résumé. I’d get angry and head outside for a walk, or pick up my kettlebell. (Or, let’s be honest, throw a pillow at one of our blessedly thick walls.) I journaled. I read my cards. I talked, a lot, to the wonderful people all around the world that I’m lucky to call my friends.
To be honest, I’m not that great at feeling my feelings. But I’ve been trying. I’ve especially been trying to notice my feelings, name them, and approach them without judgment. (I believe this is similar to or a tenet of mindfulness, but I could be wrong.) It’s hard for me to sit with an unpleasant feeling, so I’ve been trying to notice those feelings while also letting myself do something comforting.
You’re Going to Miss Things, No Matter What
Here’s the thing: I’m no stranger to missing things. I moved from the US when I was 22, and shortly after, my friends began getting engaged and then married. They’ve got new jobs, new friends, new partners, and new lives in new cities. I spent a lot of time worrying that I would be left behind, and thus, experienced a ton of FOMO.
With the benefit of four years’ experience, I can say that yes, I have grown apart from people. But I’m still on their side. I’m still watching from the social media sidelines. I’m still catching up when I get a chance to. We’ll always have the time that we spent together, even though things will change.
Every time you make a choice to do something, you are giving up the possibility of doing something else at that exact moment in time. Sometimes that is a massively frightening concept. That’s part of why people get cold feet. It’s why you might second-guess even decisions that you feel very strongly about. But if we let fear dictate our choices, we’re giving up our power. Worse yet, we might end up stuck, stock-still, doing absolutely nothing.
Some questions have correct answers. Some don’t. Some situations have a multitude of good potential outcomes, while others leave you kinda screwed no matter what you choose.
My Philosophy on Moving Forward and Choosing Abundance
It’s very simple: I learn from my choices, and unless I can do anything productive with regret that I’m harboring, I let it go. Hopefully, I’ll have at least 60 more years to make choices, good and bad. That’s so much time. I know for a fact that there will be times where I’ll look back and wish that I’d made a different choice. But as long as I let what I learn inform my choices going forward, I’m doing the best I can.
I did not naturally come with a mindset of abundance pre-installed. As far as I can tell, most people in the Western world did not. Whether we’re nervous about having enough food, money, friends, or time, I think most of us harbor some deep-seated fears about not having — or being — enough.
Here’s where it all ties together: There is an abundance of life out there. Many of us have an abundance of choices. Sometimes, that’s terrifying. But let’s think about it logically for a second. Do you really think that there’s only one right choice, and that any of the other numerous choices you might make are going to send you down the highway straight to hell? I don’t. I think we have the chance to make varying degrees of good and bad choices every day, and many choices that are morally quite neutral. There are so many places that we could end up. I don’t think most of us have one or two major forks in the road, and that’s it. We face smaller choices all the time that help shape who we are and what we become.
What the Hell Does This Have to Do with Woodhull?
If there are an abundance of choices, and if our daily lives really do matter (which, they do!), then going to one event will not make or break my entire life. It won’t break the friendships that I’ve spent months or even years cultivating. It won’t shut me out of every potential sponsorship deal, every review, every consultation.
If you didn’t make it to Woodhull this year, you are no less a voice that deserves to be heard. It can be a magical, transformative experience, yes. But it’s not everything.
And I may not have an abundance of money to travel with, or the ability to stay awake until 3am to Facetime my Americans. But I do have an abundance of time. I have an internet connection. I can choose to remind myself that there is enough fun, enough love, and enough support to go around. I can say, yes, I am sad… But I am also so thankful to have friends that I miss, family that I love, and a dog that was so wonderful that 5 years together made up for more than 20 years of waiting.
There’s so much out there. I want to move forward with abundance1.
- If you want to read more about abundance, I would highly, highly recommend Brené Brown’s writing! ↩