FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, still happens to me, whether I am here in Singapore or home in America. But, I really need to get over it.
It seems like there’s always something going on that we can’t make it to, or in some cases, are not invited to. I guess it’s a worldwide phenomenon, since it has its own texting acronym. But should we just give in to it? Let’s discuss.
I’ve mentioned missing holidays at home often. I was lucky enough last year to be home for both Independence Day in July as well as Thanksgiving in November. Realistically, though, that won’t be the case every year, due to the international school holiday schedule. That’s expat life – gotta deal with it.
I have some friends at home who do annual family trips, which don’t coincide with our trips home. And our own families can’t always plan to meet us for extended holidays, due their schedules. Plus, we miss lots of fun family birthday parties for the cousins. I missed a big picnic with my Irish-American relatives a few summers ago, as well as New Year’s Day get together that featured my family’s annual lentil soup tradition. It’s supposed to be good luck to eat it on the first day of the year. So, despite our absence, hopefully our luck holds out for 2018!
Here in Singapore, I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on NOT feeling the “fear of missing out.” Overall, we get to do most of what we want to do in terms of events like F1 in September and a couple of formal balls, like the American Association of Singapore’s Washington Ball in February of this year.
For holidays, we typically stay here for Chinese New Year, so we’re not missing out on that. We always take part in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on Circular Road on Boat Quay, including the parade, which we walked in last year behind the samba drums and hope to do again when my in-laws visit. However, we certainly do miss that holiday event in Chicago, a major celebration of all things Irish.
What struck me harder than I thought it would: the first time my little girl was left out of a party invite. As a mom of only one young child, we knew there was going to be first time for that. FOMO was not as much of missing out, but sadness about not being included. Sigh. It happens to my husband and I, too, as we have been left off invite lists for events and parties. So, whether you are young or old, it’s one of those disappointments in life. Life goes on.
The whole rise of the FOMO acronym and culture does put things in perspective a bit. What’s the big “fear” of missing events or not being included? Is that somehow not being somewhere lowers your value? Common sense may have prevailed before, when peole would have said, “Who cares?” (Or, before social media, they may just not have known what everyone was up to!) Personally, I think the idea of FOMO is a bit juvenile. And living with any kind of fear sucks.
But, “missing out” just opens the door for other opportunities. There’s plenty of happiness and contentment to be had from doing your own thing here in Singapore or when you are on home leave. Our experiences in both places really are about what we make of it ourselves. So, go and make your own plans and focus on the positive side. Skip the fear thing. Really, the only “missing out” is when you don’t live your life in the place where you’re at, either physically or mentally. For me, that means trying to enjoy exactly where I am now. For now, it’s Singapore. And I’m OK with that.
About Andrea McKenna
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.
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