Have you ever heard the term FOMO? It means “fear of missing out”. The first time I remember noticing it was on a Drumstick advertisement, and yes I fear missing out on delicious ice cream. However, the term has been dancing around my head for the last couple of weeks, so I think it’s time I turn to my blog to write out why it’s in my head and see where my introspection takes me.
The reason the term is in my head is because I’m living it hard. I am afraid of missing out on so many things. When they said 30 was the new 20 they weren’t kidding. Growing up I was told to expect tons of marriages and babies while in my 20s and it never really happened. Of those closest to me the only person who got married and had babies in their 20s was my sister. Otherwise, I knew people getting into relationships and doing things with their life but it was all bits and pieces here and there. It didn’t really come all at once.
In my 30s however, it’s a smorgasbord. On my fridge right now are two wedding invitations for weddings happening two weeks apart this month, there is a save-the-date for a wedding in January, with an invitation to that bride’s wedding shower in November. There is another wedding I know of happening in April that I’m sure an invite for is coming (considering my BF is in the wedding party and I am now friends with the couple), but even if I don’t get to tag along it’s another wedding on my radar. Baby-wise my sister may be done but tons of people around me aren’t – my oldest friend is expecting her first child and due to the nature of the pregnancy this child could surprise us and arrive any day (though the due date is late November), a co-worker just had a baby in August with another co-worker talking about seriously trying to get pregnant by the end of the year, multiple people on a knitting forum I frequent are pregnant. And engagements? Don’t get me started! I know no less than 4 people who got engaged in the last 2 weeks. All of this is aside from people I know going on fantastic vacations, starting school, or settled into fantastic careers. As for me: getting engaged is not on my horizon, let alone getting married again. A pregnancy is theoretically possible but highly unlikely. I have a great job but can’t turn it into a career without going back to school, and going back to school on top of crawling out of debt is a hard battle to fight. A vacation sounds great … except I’m probably about 10 months away from being able to have the space at work to go on vacation, have the means for a vacation, and knowing I will have worked for almost 3 years without a real break is heartbreak and exhausting.
I get it, woe is me. I have a great life – I make a decent living, I live in a fairly nice apartment for the cheapest rent you can imagine, I have a great boyfriend, I’m steady in my ED recovery, and all I’m missing is the discipline to scrimp and save to make some of my dreams reality. But there is still this deep fear that life is passing me by right now, of feeling like I’m stuck, and when FOMO popped into my mind a couple of weeks ago I realized that is exactly what is happening to me.
Before I continue, again I want to acknowledge that I know these feelings are not rational. I’m aware that to be divorced now that means I did get married. Wasband and I eloped, and while it wasn’t the big(ger) wedding I always thought of, it was perfect and special in its own way. Regardless of what I did or did not get at my wedding, I got married – which is the goal of a wedding – and I do not regret my marriage. I also know it was my/our decision to continue our long distance relationship and to not have children while we were apart. Hindsight shows this was a smart decision, but it was made on it being not fair for one parent to be consistently away from their child and we weren’t wrong to make that decision. I’m also aware that if I really wanted to have a child so badly I could make that happen at any time, and it’s my own decisions about other aspects of my life that has stopped me thus far. Again, I know that the only reason I’m not a mother right now is because I have chosen to not be one yet, and that is okay.
It is also okay to look to others and be a bit envious. Envy (and jealousy) are natural emotions and emotions are not bad. What you do with those emotions, however, is the trick and I think/hope I’ve been smart and responsible thus far. I’m not rushing out to do things I’m not ready for or with people I’m not ready with just because I want what someone else has. To be completely honest, I think going through a divorce helps you realign your priorities, and because of that (and the fact that I am divorced and BF is going through the process) we had very serious talks very early in our relationship. I was very frank about where I am in life and where I wanted to go, and that if he couldn’t see himself at any point being there with me we should cut our losses and go our separate ways – I wasn’t asking to commit to any of those things in that moment, but that this was the road I was going to be walking toward, and lucky for me he wants to walk down that same road. So I know that maybe getting married again and maybe being a mother is potentially in my future, and I’m currently dating someone who also wants to maybe get married and maybe be a father some day. Great! Step one complete!
But that knowledge of “someday, one day” hasn’t stopped the FOMO, and so more reflection has been required. There is definitely the what ifs of if my marriage hadn’t ended, and the wondering if I did the right thing in getting married as opposed to waiting until it could be the wedding I wanted. I know I’m having a hard time reconciling the idea that I’m not a huge fan of being the center of attention, but also missing out on wedding showers and dress shopping and a bachlorette party and I know that the wedding industry has basically sold us this idea of all these things you *need* for a perfect wedding, but watching others go through it makes me feel like I missed out a bit. And I know pregnancy is hell … that it can be the most beautiful and awful thing a single human can experience, and that cuddling a baby is only one part of a life-time commitment to bringing another life into the world … so a lot of this is forest-for-the-trees (damn, I am full of all these cliches today) but it was only recently it occurred to me what is driving these feelings.
It’s an inconsistency with two things people will say all the time. The first is “You’re still young, you have all the time in the world to make all these things happen”. The second is “Life is short. Take risks, go after what you want. Make life happen instead of waiting for it to happen”. And so on and so forth, you get the idea. It’s the idea that you have ALL THIS TIME but wait, life is short YOU HAVE NO TIME, IT COULD BE GONE ANY MINUTE, LIVE WITH NO REGRETS. How is any person supposed to live like this? How can you plan like you will live to 80 and die tomorrow? How can I plan like I will travel the world in retirement and get hit by a bus on my way to work? Doing both seems like an inherent contraction, and how can you do both? Eventually I rationed that I should financially plan like I will live to retirement but take risks and opportunities as they come. That I should still try to get on top of my debt but also make time for things that are important and matter to me. Under that vein being a mother is more important to me than getting married again, at least at the wedding that has always been in my head. Being comfort financially is more important to me than blowing all my money on a vacation every year, but getting away in my own province is a smart half-way point between the two. Being a mother is important to me only if I can actually afford to care and support a child (which is also the same about getting a pet). There is definitely a way to work within everything that means I can still achieve my dreams, still be happy for my friends who are going through these life changing events, still be a bit envious … and use that to fuel me. I am truly happy for people going through these things, and wish them nothing but a lifetime of happiness with their spouses and/or children. One day my time will come – and if it doesn’t I will deal with that reality if/when I get there. I can’t take unnecessary risks now that could affect my life when I’m 50, but going through a divorce has taught me that I also can’t sit back and wait for life to happen … because then all I have is broken memories to show for almost half my life with someone.
In the end, I’ve still got a serious case of FOMO. But I also know that I’m making the best decisions for me right now, and that as much as I want an engagement, a wedding, a baby, and a whirlwind vacation these are not in my foreseeable future and that’s okay. What is in my future? A continuing developing relationship with an amazing guy, all the adventures we’re going to have together, celebrating amazing milestones in my friend’s lives and, above all, being true to myself and the path I’m currently on. Oh, and probably a cat. I’m so ready to be loved on by a kitty of my own.