I have been reading (and enjoying) Morra Aarons-Mele’s Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), which I heard about from Mel (thanks, Mel!); it’s given me a lot to think about, and helped me understand why I find it so difficult to think about leaving academia (spoiler alert: I’m not only an introvert but also a hermit and academia, at least in the humanities, is great for hermits).
Early in the book, she writes about the positive side of FOMO (pages 29-31), writing that “once you get in touch with your FOMO, it can be a powerful diagnostic tool” and “like a sore muscle or overused tendon, excessive FOMO is also a sign that a behavior has to change”. If you are always feeling FOMO about the same things, that can be a signal about what you feel is lacking in your own life.
This point really struck home with me, because I know exactly where I experience FOMO. I might get a twinge of it now and again if someone has gone on a particularly exotic vacation or spent a lot of time at a cottage or gone out for a weekend of eating at nice restaurants and watching live theatre, but those moments of FOMO are fleeting: I don’t really want to be that person doing those things. I wish I could do those things too, but I’m content with the current phase of my life and I can see that those things don’t easily align with that phase (read: raising small children). I’m even less likely to experience FOMO with career-related news (which is the kind of FOMO Aarons-Mele is discussing) because I’m not ambitious in that regard (even though I often feel guilty that this is true).
When does my FOMO strike?
- When people take better photographs than I do (especially of their kids and/or landscapes)
- When people announce they’re publishing a book (especially bloggers who started blogging after I did [not that I ever thought this blog would lead to a book- it’s more that they were able to find a blogging niche that eventually opened the door to a book]).
It’s not rocket science to see the changes I need to make to triumph over my FOMO.
- Take more pictures
- Switch from AV to Manual mode and start shooting in RAW
- Read my camera’s manual to figure out what I don’t yet know how to do
- Learn how to edit my pictures using Lightroom
- Possibly take some sort of online course if I’m still not seeing the results I want
- Write more
- Set aside dedicated time for writing each day/week
- Edit my work if I finish something
- Actually submit my work somewhere so it might have the opportunity to see the light of day
Seeing the steps forward is always easy for me. Actually taking those steps is often another story.
Do you experience FOMO? Is it fleeting or is your mind trying to tell you something?
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