Fear Of Missing Out is the most common meaning of the abbreviation: FOMO (pronounced: “foe-moe”). As much as I can identify with this meaning I think a more accurate version for me would be Fear Of Missed Opportunity.
I loved going to the Academy of the New Church and have so many fond memories of the wide variety of activities I took part in. As I get farther in time from my high school experience, I am able to recognize just how big of an impact it had on me and my personality.
I took a lot of things with me after leaving the Academy and most of them are pretty typical of all high school experiences. But the biggest thing I took away was not only unique to the Academy, but also totally subconscious. In high school we were encouraged to try everything, to participate in everything, and to always do our best. The faculty had high expectations for their students and the student body was small enough that they could hold each of us personally responsible for our success. You had to be a good student to stay on top and earn the approval of the teachers. That isn’t to say that they held everyone to the same standard or individually chastised us, but there was a definite attitude that you owed it to your teacher to get good grades.
Another side effect of having a small student body was that in order for things to happen, a majority of the students had to be involved and for a lot of things they were. The theater productions are a good example. When the play came around (especially the musical) it was a school wide production. All sorts of people were involved whether they were interested in theater in the long run or not. Those same people were involved in sports and extracurriculars on top of their regular academics. Even when the musical was over there were always other things to fill your time with.
Now, personal responsibility and participating in a wide range of activities isn’t a bad thing, but taking that mindset out of the Academy and into a college environment has been an interesting experience. I find that I still hold myself up to those same high standards and expect myself to participate in everything that I possibly can. But in the end, I have my limits and it’s been a challenge finding where they are. I also still expect my teachers to have personal investment in my academic success. As much as they are always there to help me if I ask, there’s no more hand holding and they’re not going to take it personally if I get a bad grade.
Of course plenty of this is simply how my own personality reacted to both the academic culture at the Academy and how I am still transitioning into that of the college. However, I know from talking to other people who went to ANC how much we feel a duty to do everything and to do it well.
That is why I think I have a heightened sense of FOMO after leaving high school. I dropped a class for the first time last term and that was only to add a different class I was more interested in. This term I dropped a class because my work load was too heavy. The ANC student in me said, “There’s no such thing as a too heavy workload, you’re just not working hard enough.” Thankfully the more balanced and sane part of me won out in the end and the wisdom in that decision shows in my grades, but part of me still cringes at the thought that I dropped that class. I felt like a quitter, like I had to explain the whole situation to the teacher so that he wouldn’t hate me forever. But that’s simply not true. I will have the chance to take that class again when I can actually fit it into my work load, and when that opportunity arises, I won’t miss it!
4 thoughts on “FOMO”
I think moms can struggle from something similar, the feeling that we ought to do everything and meet all needs. It seems to take some time to realize that we have limited resources of time and energy and ability and that the wiser course is to choose our priorities and make sure we spend our limited resources on those priorities.
A very wise woman once gave me a bird’s eye view of how we develop over time. She said (she had read somewhere) that in your 20’s you struggle to find out what you want to do, in your 30’s you find out what you are able to do, in your 40’s you decide what you don’t want to do and in you 50’s you live out your dream, offer leadership to others and stand in awe of what is possible!
Of course all generalizations must be taken with a grain of salt, but what reminded me of this progression in your article is the part where you “decide what you don’t want to do”. You’re ahead of your time, Tykeh. Rejoice!
One way of looking at “Fear of Missed Opportunity” is to identify if something is an opportunity or not to begin with. It sounds like you made the best decision to drop that class; carrying on with a heavy load would have been a burden and not an opportunity.
Thank you so much for your article!
I hear ya, Tykah! I tend toward trying to excel at everything, too, and I’m so glad to hear that you had the wherewithal to drop that one class that was bringing you down, rather than trudge through it because you felt like you ought to be able to — which would probably not only have affected your performance in that class, but in your other classes, and other aspects of your life, too. I’m glad you’ve got the perspective you have, and I wish you much wisdom and fulfillment going forward! 🙂
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