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Missing Out

Are you ever afraid of missing out, on food or anything else? For instance, at a social gathering with lots of great food options, do you find yourself eating it not so much because you’re hungry but because you don’t know when you’ll have a chance to try it again? Or for that matter, maybe you went to the gathering to begin with because you didn’t want to miss out.

I’ve often felt this way, on many fronts, but I didn’t realize how widespread this is until I learned about the acronym FOMO – fear of missing out. Apparently this is part of our cultural new norm.

But norm or not, I’ve found it to be exhausting, as well as a great source of anxiety and stress. If I’m constantly worried about missing something tasty or exciting, I can’t properly enjoy what I’m having or doing now. It also means I’m filled with a fairly constant, underlying sense of almost anticipatory grief for the current moment ending, which makes it hard to enjoy much of anything.

Then recently, when seeing all the holiday concerts and events and foods, I realized – I will never be able to experience it all. No matter how much I try or want to do things, it is literally impossible to participate in or partake of everything. And that, by default, means that I’m going to miss out on something, possibly lots of somethings.

On the surface of it, this might seem depressing. Yet instead I found it freeing. If I take it as a given that I’ll miss out, it removes the pressure of aiming for the impossible goal of doing it all. It’s like a friend of mine in college who wanted to see if could graduate with a 4.0. It made her miserable, which explains why she became excited about getting an A-. She was much more relaxed and happier after that, knowing a 4.0 was no longer possible so she didn’t have to aim for a it anymore – and it turned out she did get straight A’s after that anyway, but without the stress.

Likewise, if I’m at a buffet and recognize I simply physically cannot have everything, I am able to choose the things I really want, relax and enjoy it, without worrying about what I’m not having.

So while I don’t really do resolutions, this year I will try embracing the idea of missing out and see what changes that brings.

And whether or not you make your own resolutions, I wish you a happy and healthy 2016.

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