FOMO. Have you heard of it?
Coined by jealous friends, relatives, and coworkers, the acronym stands for Fear of Missing Out, or the feeling you get when you don’t attend or do something awesome that other people you know did.
You might think the FOMO phenomenon just relates to parties you wish you had gone to and marathons you should have run. Wrong.
It permeates all aspects of life and apparent necessary milestones that one can enter in adulthood.
Social media makes you question what you’re doing with your life. It’s as if this made-up rat race of life accomplishments had a scoreboard and Facebook is it.
Guess what––it always feels like you’re losing. So, the question is –– how to beat the rigged system?
We all have our nomad heroes. Jack Kerouac, Christopher McCandless, Amelia Earhart, the old man from Up, etc.
Their lives and work inspire you, and you aim to land in their shoes.
Hashtag life goals.
How? You work, and work, and then you work in pursuit of your dreams. Meanwhile, thanks to our social media culture, the results of that effort get shared far and wide.
For example, if you leverage your travel adventures into some kind of business or personal creative project, your words, pictures, and other work are slathered across the internet in one form or another. Your life and work start to run together so much that you're never sure when you are on or off the clock.
As online business relies so much on clicks, views, and impressions, it’s basically your job to broadcast what you’re doing.
One problem: most people only see one side of this equation –– the glamorous one, where you're taking selfies near some famed work of architecture or looking out at a beautiful landscape as if you are thinking deeply about the meaning of life.
Due to this distorted lens, something strange starts to happen. Friends, near and far flung, family members, and complete strangers start to see and analyze you. Then, they give you and your life labels and commentary that you never saw coming.
Some of which is critical, and patently unfair. Harsh comments can be a complete buzzkill when you're trying to do something weird and great.
So, how to deal with criticism that can bring you down?
Somewhere in between the gold stars of academic accolades and the bottom of a bottle of beer in my early twenties, I realized a universal truth:
No one actually knows what they are doing –– at all. People might think they do, say they do, tell you they do, but they really don't know much more than you. We’re all just kind of stumbling our way through this messy life.
However, the nuggets of wisdom keep on coming, and shoulds rain down upon you.
Sometimes you find people with good advice: parents, doctors, flight attendants, Siri.
But even this well-meaning counsel can be dangerous. After all, a grand total of zero people on the planet have walked the same journey that you have. But even the most earnest of guidance comes from a limited place: one’s own experience.
So, when it comes to making life decisions, you’re on your own. And often, this means just following along with what someone has told you is a good idea to do.
But if you’re anything like me, when presented with Door A and Door B as your options, you pull a Miss Scarlet (in the conservatory with the wrench) and start looking for that trap door.
For a long time, I thought I was largely alone and honestly kind of a bad person for thinking this way. Then, I found a book that proved such a notion completely wrong.
I don't call myself a writer.
Giving myself that title feels disingenuous. As if in doing so, I would be wrongfully placing myself among greats such as Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, and Judy Blume.
So, when people ask me what I do, I might talk about writing, but I am never a writer.
My LinkedIn profile has never listed me as such.
Similarly, I carefully vet the creative work I have posted online.
Any creation with my name attached to it has gone through a series of mental and written checklists to affirm that I indeed, want it to be open to the masses.
Why is this the case?
Why do I (and many others) filter our creative work so heavily, often at the expense of total authenticity?
I have a theory.
And it involves internet trolls.
As a human being, I have my fair share of flaws.
My thoughts are a whirring stationary bicycle, my moods coordinate directly with my caffeine intake, and Monica Gellar has nothing on my control issues.
If you ask my family about my drawbacks, you’ll end up down a rabbit hole that includes “inappropriate topic choices at dinner” and “frustrating Christmas present opener”, among other delights.
Despite these annoyances I inflict upon those around me, I’m quite proud of my dedication to self-improvement in many aspects of my life and self––which happens to be one of the big reasons why I travel. I feel that when I am on the road or in a new place, I change. I learn. I grow.
I inch closer to becoming the next, better version of myself that I aim to be. Gina 2.whatever.
Blog posts on blog posts could be written about all the skills I’ve gained and lessons I’ve learned while traveling.
But today I’ll focus on 3 of the top life skills that I’ve picked up along with my passport stamps.
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.