Passing by FOMO

Last night was Believeco (Calgary)’s annual Holiday Party (though “Christmas” was more generally used, we acknowledge the more non-denominational intent). And has nearly every corporate (and more specifically, agency) Holiday event that I’ve ever attended, there was much boozing.

Curiously, though, and perhaps this has been building for the last few years, I don’t feel the need – nay, the urge – to see the evening through to its conclusion. Even looking back at previous events, I was never the last to leave, even if I did stick around to the somewhat sloppy points. Last night, however, I realized the point at which I should have departed, which was before the point I had.

I don’t know if it’s age thing, a realization that I’m becoming more introverted (a sympathetic situation with the rest of my family, I think), or just that I’d “had enough”. Maybe all three. Maybe other elements, I don’t know. But as the pictures started arriving in the event’s chat thread, I realized that I hadn’t really missed being there. This was new for me.

I used to have really bad FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), which stems from my own self-perception, which is – generally-speaking – negative. I’ve never been popular, I’ve never seen myself as attractive (married, two kids, can’t be that bad, I suppose…), and while I’m blessed with my share of friends, I’m past that point in my life where “going out on short notice” is a regular thing and I tend not to be invited out because … family, I guess? (I’m short: I’m boring. I’ve accepted that fact, even if it is a kick to the ego.) So I when I would see the fun things erupting from others in plinian frivolity, I would silently weep to myself.

This, incidentally, is probably why I wear my loud shirts, so that I stand out. I’m sure it’s a subconscious thought that started me down that path, though it’s a conscious pattern that I’ve continued since. There is not a focus of attention that I subconsciously crave, so I do what I can to at least be seen.

The need to at least be seen has been an on-going issue for a long time, though, stemming probably all the way back to high school. I mean, what’s why I stayed with the Onzaine, even through it’s breakup in our final year of school, even though I felt quite isolated at times – even forgotten – because those were the only people outside my own family that recognized me. It’s why I still remember them, even think of them as friends, even though I haven’t seen some of them in over 30 years. Social media has helped keep in touch with some of them, but … well, FOMO does rear up, of course, as does good ol’ classic jealousy and a haunting realization that I was never good enough.

I’ve had the feeling of not being recognized in my own family. I’ve had this fear since I was a young father, having to leave my child at home while I went to work, wondering if she remembered me after I left the door. It changed as I got older to feeling more like the robot that had to make sure the household moved on a given day: getting kids up, fed, dressed, off to school, making dinner, having them cleaned and ready for bed, repeat ad infinitum, and … that’s the opposite of FOMO. It’s more of a plea.

There was no FOMO this morning about last night. And it’s not that I didn’t want to be there, just that I felt I didn’t miss anything. I shudder to think that it’s a “mature” realization (only because I loathe to think of myself as “mature”), but I admit that I can’t really think of any other way to describe it. It’s a mental health thing, then, knowing that I’ve had what I needed and I need nothing else. Maybe. I’m not really clear, to be honest.

Strange way to be closing out a year, I know, to be so philosophical about my self-awareness, never mind my recognition, though maybe those are the things that come with age. It’s not a wisdom – I certainly don’t feel any wiser – though perhaps it is a calming of desires that tended to only cause trouble.

As I thought a month ago, maybe I am getting too old for that shit.