Sunday, 27 January 2013

Missing Out?

Fear of missing out. Or, to use the vernacular acronym, FOMO. We all suffer from it from time to time. The sinking feeling that somebody somewhere is having more fun than you. Since the advent of Facebook fomo has become all the more prevalent in our society as it provides irrefutable evidence of what exactly it is that we're missing out on. Friends at parties we weren't invited to or couldn't make, holiday snaps that cause us to turn a delicate shade of green-with-envy as we scroll through them from our work desk, status updates about successful job offers in exciting places. These days, every cup of frothy topped latte has to be instagramed and uploaded in order to demonstrate that we are not missing out, that our own life experience is just as fulfilling and exciting as the next person's.

I'm just as guilty of this as anyone. As much as I try not to get sucked into it all I find myself needing to validate my day, to share with the world that I'm a participant in the fun of life, essentially to boast to anyone who will listen that I too am having a wonderful time, or at least enjoying a cup of tea and a custard cream. In my current position it can often feel like all my friends are off forging successful, glamorous careers for themselves in the big city whilst, for me, all hopes of glamour died along with my hairdryer, the moment I melted the end of it attempting to dry out a child's rugby boots that had been left out in the rain the night before a big match. As much as I love this job, occasionally fomo can hit, and hit hard. However, something has happened which has made me decide to hit back. I've come to the conclusion that it's time to bash fomo on the head and squash it back into the box where it belongs. Let me tell you why.  

If you read my last post you'll now be acquainted with Charlie, the youngest child in the boarding house. However, what I didn't tell you last time is that Charlie is Chinese and, whilst his English is almost impeccable, occasionally his grasp of the language fails him and the correct word eludes him. A couple of weeks back I went to the boys bathroom to collect some laundry bags which are stored there. I knew there was a high probability that the boys might be undressed so I knocked at the door and announced that Matron needed to come in. 
'No!! Not decent!' came the reply from several little voices the other side of the door.  
'Ok, you've got until the count of three to make yourself decent and then I'm coming in to collect some laundry bags. One...two...three...' 
In I went to find the three little boys who were waiting for the shower grasping their towels around their middle as if their lives depended on it, mumbling 'Don't look! Don't look!' 
A veritable picture of modesty. 
'Don't worry, I'm not looking,' I reassured them, as I made a swift beeline towards the laundry bags in the corner.  
'Matron?' asked Graham, one of the cheekiest boys in the house.  
'Yes,' said I, turning to face him, only to find him with an impish grin on his face, whipping his towel open and closed as he wiggled his mini-Graham at me. Before long all three of them had let their inner exhibitionist roam free, all the while continuing to admonish me not to look. Soon they were giggling so hard they could barely stand up.  
Meanwhile poor Charlie had been in the shower, hearing the raucous laughter outside, yet ignorant of its cause. Fomo struck and before long, I could hear his little voice above the others' laughter, squawking indignantly from the shower, 'What's so happy out there!? What's so happy??' Except in his delightful little accent it sounded more like, 'Wass so happy ow there? Wassso happy??'  
I would have laughed to myself and thought little more of this event had there not been another minor ruckus a couple of mornings ago. I came down to the boys' floor to check on them before breakfast. As if on cue, Charlie flung open the door of his dormitory and fled down the corridor, shouting in disgust, 'Stuart just showed his bad thing!!'
So horrified was Charlie by the sight of Stuart's 'bad thing' that it made me think that Charlie might not have liked to find out what was so happy out there in the boys' changing room the week before. He might not have been missing out on anything after all.  

These two events, silly as they are, have cemented in my mind as proof that fomo is a decidedly false friend. It's so easy to hear the frivolity outside of your door and be gripped by an unshakeable sense that the grass would be greener on the other side. But shake it off we must, and live in good faith that we're where we're meant to be for the time being. To try and be anywhere else would far more likely result in missing out. And that, undoubtedly, would be a very 'bad thing' indeed. Celebrate where you, however ordinary it might seem, rather than looking longingly towards somewhere you're not.

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