On FOMO, YOLO, and Existentialism.

by Rachael on May 6, 2013 · 16 comments


Is there anything more disappointing than becoming exactly what everyone said you would? Feeling the way they told you you’d feel, wanting the things they told you you’d want?

It seems such a failure to be so painfully un-unique, to be the same as, oh, everyone else in the whole world ever. You’re no snowflake. You’re just another child of a couple baby boomers; another Gen Y-er who eventually gave up boozing for a healthy relationship, a fulfilling career and a pack of friends she can really lean on. (Like everyone else approaching 30, I traded in the large pack of acquaintances for the small nuclear circle of love. Yet another cliché, sigh.)

I suppose it’s all relative, right? The most interesting person in the world probably feels they’re anything but. When people say they admire this or that about me, I feel like a fraud, a phony. Is it an issue of perception, or am I actually faking them out? Is it a front I’m putting on that can be ripped away? Or do they truly see who I am — an accomplished woman — and I just cannot?

When I look at myself, all I see is the loose ends: I have trouble paying my bills sometimes, I worry if I’ll be a good mom, I hate myself for not calling friends enough, for deciding to move across the country from family when they need me most. I love my job, but I’m terrified of somehow losing it all. That the tech bubble will burst, or that because social ROI is still (nearly) impossible to measure, my work will never be appreciated.

And yet a part of me knows that, at least on paper, I lead a life far more fortunate and exciting than most in this world. I face exhilarating challenges in my job, constantly engage with brilliant people, and learn new things every day. I never worry about food or a roof or even about having someone to lean on; my primal needs are more than covered (and usually come with a side of bacon).

I fear the expense, worry and responsibility of raising a family, and yet I can’t imagine a life without creating one. I outwardly revel in “feeling old” and staying in most nights, because truthfully, part of me is so relieved that I did stop feeling the need to constantly be out and drinking and surrounded by people. (I don’t want to party anymore, but I sort of miss the girl who did.)

And I wonder if that light died too fast, and if it will ever flicker back on… or is this just the next chapter, and should I simply be glad for it?


1 Woolly May 7, 2013 at 4:19 am

I can relate to this post… you typed the thoughts that were in my head about 3 yrs ago… I used to go out every night and bar hop/socialize/live it up… now I would much rather stay in with a few friends and just enjoy the company.
I used to love going to concerts and festivals and now when I get asked I simply say no..
20 something’s think of this as getting old, and not being “Fun” anymore… I look at it as not getting old, but simply growing up… I want different things now… I don’t wanna spend my morning puking my guts out with a raging headache… I now value what a good night sleep brings…

your 20′s are for acting stupid and making memories, your thirties are sitting back and enjoying the fact you survived your 20′s…. and remember you’re unique.. just like everybody else… LOL

2 Spleeness May 7, 2013 at 5:48 am

Ha! Somehow you always hit it right on with your timing — lately I’ve been enjoying quiet time too and I can’t tell if it’s just a phase or me settling in. It’s so nice of you to post this because those doubts are ones we all share and now we can feel more connected (you’re so good at bloggy connecting!).

3 Chholy May 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

Wow. This is well timed. I was having these exact same doubts after a drunk friend spent 30 mins at a party this weekend extolling my virtues. After a lot of self reflecting tears, I realized that maybe I am more valuable than my own self perception will allow me to believe just yet.

4 Jo May 7, 2013 at 7:33 am

Oh, I’ve totally been there. It passes and then you start worrying about other stuff. But then again worrying about things, like, what other people think of you goes out the window. It’s so freeing! At (almost) 32, my latest realization has been that what I thought I would be when I was 22, the future I envisioned, is completely different and it’s totally ok. In fact, it’s better.

5 BakingSuit May 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

I went through this a few years ago and can tell you that you’ll never stop shining, but it might be sparkles here and there or a glow than a bright beacon light. That’s ok because you realize how much energy it took to shine like that all the time. You start to find centering activities you love and expend your energy connecting – really truly connecting to those around you.

Your acquaintance circle will grow again too as you find different hobbies or interests to throw yourself into. Maybe through volunteer work, maybe through a soft ball team or whatever, but it does.

As for the job, if it disappears, have trust in the fact that you’ll find something equally as perfect or you won’t but you’ll still be you and still bring light to the world regardless of where your paycheck comes from. I’ve been told that I bring more light to the world working the job I I don’t love but affords me more free time as opposed to the job I loved but stressed me out all the time and gave me no free time.

6 Paula May 7, 2013 at 11:25 am

I’m pretty unhappy with my life at the moment and I’m still stuck in that big-circle-of-people, drinking-a-lot circle I was in five years ago . . . I’d rather be a bit more conventional and settled down, trust me. It’s great that you are happy with what you’ve got.

This IS the next chapter . . . but it doesn’t mean any sort of light has flickered out. As long as the power is still working, then you can still switch it back on whenever you want. ;-)

7 Lesley May 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Recently I read a book called “Proof of Heaven” wherein the author, a scientist and neurosurgeon, has a near-death experience. He doesn’t believe in a higher power or greater purpose before, and pretty much lives in a space of what you accomplish here matters and that’s it. Then, he almost dies and has a pretty beautifully described experience and comes away with a few fundamental messages that forever alter his being. One of them, the one that grabbed me most, was this: You cannot screw up your life. Meaning, you are worthy and amazing and doing all the right things, even if you never do any of it right or great (according to you or anyone else).

That was kind of a game changer for me, because the situation I’ve been in over the last couple years have not reflected what I could have previously imagined and yet, damn if there weren’t so many incredible things that came out of it. And not in a lesson-y sort of way, but in a more meaningful way. No matter what I choose or do not, no matter what I try or do not, I cannot screw up. I truly believe we are THAT worthy and miraculous and to read someone put it into words was the exact thing I needed.

I haven’t really stopped to think if I believe the story, or believe in near-death experiences, I guess it’s just enough to hear “Whatever, it’s all good.” I don’t know what your beliefs may be, but my higher power is totally comfortable with “whatevers.” We just have to be kind and brave, everything else is practice. And you are so good at that, this I know for sure.

I know I’m so long-winded. Thanks for bearing with me. (Also, just a note, the message I sent you earlier today was completed before I’d even read this post. :) FYI.)

8 nowoodennickels May 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

It is a bit sad every time you grow from one “you” to the next, because as you so eloquently said, you miss that girl even as you enjoy the new one. I miss the “young, busy mom” me from my 30’s, and the “back to grad school career changing” me from my 40’s. But I also love the more comfortable with myself 50-something me who can bounce back from whatever comes because I have a supportive marriage and friends who have been through it all with me. And yet, as much as you change, and even when those changes are pretty predictable, there is a thread of uniqueness, a core “you” that carries through it all. Everyone (especially your mom!) sees that in you and gets it from no one else.

9 megabrooke May 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

All of this, yep. I have been there, sometimes I’m still there, but mostly I felt this nearing the end of my 20′s. I still enjoy a night out with friends where the drinks are flowing, but now I choose to just have one or two, and crave getting home to tuck it in early watching DVR’d Shameless. It’s still just as good as it used to be, in fact, now I’m enjoying things even more at this stage of life, but I think it’s mostly because I’m trying to consciously live in the here and now, enjoying the moment and the stage of the present for I know that in just a few short “moments” (a year or two maybe?), I’ll be in a completely different stage, trying my damnedest to savor that too.

10 Lucy May 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I have to be honest, I spent my twenties raising my two kids. Ah, yes, gasp! I had my first child at age 22 and my second child at age 25. So, I never experienced those roaring twenty years that so many talk about but I did enjoy my college years before I married and I met my husband in college so we had some of those fun evenings together *wink*. We happily settled into married life and raising our kids, so I get where you are heading, you will enjoy the next chapter as much as your last one :)

11 Keane May 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Suki led me to your site. Great post. Couldn’t help but read and relate to it!

I often have to tell myself not to feel like I’m living with or without rules set by society, but to ignore they even exist and be happy however I live.


12 Bianca May 11, 2013 at 5:26 am

Oh, 30s… They’re the best thing since sliced bread. When I first met you, I was nearing mine and going through the same whirl of thoughts. A few years later, I can honestly say it’s all turning out for the best. We evolve. And it is fucking rad.

13 Mattie May 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Oh yes, honey. An early welcome—almost, I think—to your 30s. It’s quieter, but no less crazier. It’s easier in some ways, harder in others. It’s fun in totally unexpected ways—and sad and scary in unexpected ways, too, because we all are growing older, and that’s both beautiful and frightening.

But, really, it’s all good. It is. I love what Bianca said above: “We evolve. And it is fucking rad.” Amen, sista.

14 Cat May 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

the idea that you aren’t a veritable mount everest of confidence is a shocking revelation to me. shouldn’t be, because you’re human, but it’s a stark difference from my impression of you. :) (that impression consists mostly of envying your drive, ability to execute, and making such incredible use of your youth- all of my greatest insecurities.)

you’re going to be an awesome mom. everyone worries about affording it, doing it well, liking it, etc. people say it works itself out, and people who don’t have them think that’s stupid, and I don’t blame them, but I swear to you, it just does. partly because most of the world will try to help you get and be what you need for that precious new life. it’s human nature, and it’s breathtaking.

you do know that we all just pretend to feel grown up, right? to make ourselves feel better? no one ever reaches total mastery over their whole life. if they do, they stop growing. we’re all just scared little kids on the inside.

that party girl is still in there. she’ll come around every so often, you’ll have an awesome night, and your thirty-something (almost) hangover the next day will remind you why she’s more of a casual acquaintance than a bff anymore. but if you’re worried about losing her, you need to hang with some mom bloggers, because these girls haven’t lost theirs by a loooong shot. :) seriously. as for me, I’ll be leaving my babe with nana and grandpa for a long weekend in NOLA this fall, and I’m taking miss dance-all-night-seven-shot-tequila-scandalous-sundress with me. ;)

15 terra May 15, 2013 at 9:25 am

Great post and I can absolutely relate. It’s hard to let go of who are and I’m feeling some of the same things as I take time to think about all the changes that have erupted in my life in this past year. I’m looking at a very different me than the one I was a year ago, and while that’s probably a very good thing, it’s still knocks me off balance a little bit.

16 michelle June 4, 2013 at 6:37 am

“I don’t want to party anymore, but I sort of miss the girl who did.” my sentiments exactly. *sigh* maturing is hard

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