Kids’ Almanac (August 22-29)

White has been enjoying her role on the event too: “[Swift] is fun to work with because he is not only witty, logical and sharp, he is also tremendously ethical and community-minded, and so he naturally designs in ways that give back to others. I am looking forward to being part of the team for more events like this one. I enjoy producing the kind of excellence that he’s after. It is marvelous fun to watch it all coming together!”

I intuitively agree with White that this event has a bigger dimension to it: “It was obvious to me that this project was Jeremy starting to be authentically himself, in a career sense. I really believe that authenticity is the way the world will heal, one person at a time, and I immediately felt both committed and privileged to assist in something so formative, positive and important.”

The Burly takes place on Sunday, August 25 in West Hurley, including Yum Yum on Wheels, which will sell food, and Tim Quilty, who will deejay and emcee the event. Advance registration is available online at www.nysmtbseries.com for $35, or beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of the event with a $5 upcharge. To volunteer (no riding experience necessary), to inquire about Swift’s riding and coaching services or for more information, send a message via the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thewesthurleyburlybackyardworldchampionship. And while you’re on the event page, take a look at the awesome six-minute video about the race, and show your kids, too! (Note: You may want to end your kids’ viewing right when the credits start, because the subsequent footage includes a couple of swears after Swift gets attacked by bees while hacking through a section of trail.)

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Conquering the Fear of Missing Out

Two weeks ago, my cousin introduced me to the term FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. As soon as she said it, I suddenly started experiencing FOMO about FOMO. I felt like everyone must know about this concept except me, and I started to worry: What other cool Internet acronyms are plotting to catch me off guard in casual conversation? I’m online a lot; what else am I missing? As Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and author Dr. Sherry Turkle says, “Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere.”

Despite my unfamiliarity with the FOMO label, trendspotter Faith Popcorn referenced it in 2012: “FOMO – the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ – is the insidious feeling that other people are getting more from life than you are. The acronym has been the focus of increasing attention, but the phenomenon is as old as Adam (who ate the apple, after all, out of fear of what he’d miss if he didn’t).”

Rochelle Kelvin of New Paltz shared, “I have never heard that term, but of course we all feel that way sometimes. I have to say that I have recently made peace with the feeling of having to be everywhere at once, and I let a lot go now, with minimal regret – especially in New Paltz, where you can’t help but miss out on really great stuff all the time. And there is always next year!”

I have my own version of the Fear of Missing Out. Our family spends a lot of time navigating a balance between the extrovert members’ requests for outings to Maverick concerts, Renegades games and Forsyth Park meet-ups and the introverts’ votes for ample, unencumbered, restorative time at home. As someone who leans toward extrovert tendencies, I have really had to dig deep sometimes to accept the need for a family home day when I might rather go for a bike ride on the Walkway over the Hudson. Distracting myself with glimpses of my Facebook newsfeed during the home zone made it worse: seeing all of those photos of my friends on fabulous excursions together while I stayed put.

For years, I thought that home time meant missing out on the real world, so I was rarely home. After marriage and children, I resented the limitations imposed by those family members who didn’t jump at the chance to go somewhere whenever the opportunity presented itself; and at the same time, I completely disregarded the importance of the home-based world that they did embrace. Was it just an inevitable aspect of parenting?

I asked Glenn Geher, PhD, director of Evolutionary Studies at SUNY-New Paltz, for his thoughts on FOMO: “As an evolutionary psychologist, I think that we live in a time fraught with unnatural features. For the lion’s share of human evolution, choices for family activities were simple and were, likely, hardly choices at all. On the African savanna before agriculture existed – which typified the evolutionary environment for 99 percent of Homo sapiens evolution – people had few day-to-day choices. Parents weren’t choosing between trumpet lessons, ballet, soccer or Minecraft camp for their young ones. They were making sure the young ones were alive and attended to, and were being educated on the ways of the prevailing culture.”

Sometimes I see so many choices for activities for my kids, and technically, a fair number of them will fit in our schedule; but of course, that reduces the home time, and I feel conflicted about which ones to pursue. Geher continued: “Our modern Westernized world is amazing, and on one hand, we’re fortunate to have all the luxuries and choices that we do. On the other hand, it’s actually very unnatural in many ways and leads to distress over things such as, ‘Should Joey do travel baseball or travel soccer next fall? We just aren’t sure which is a better fit.’ These kinds of decisions are distressing partly because our minds didn’t evolve to think about stuff like this. From the evolutionary perspective, seeing humans as shaped to live in small-scale nomadic societies, families should strive for fun, teamwork, friendship and security: These are the things to not miss out on. Missing out on making All-County Chorus one year or a popular kid’s birthday party or making the 8-year-old travel team …these are not the kinds of things that our minds evolved to worry about.”

I thought that FOMO was a forever way of being, as sociologist and life coach Martha Beck quips: “I suspect FOMO will try to follow me to my grave – which probably won’t be nearly as happening as all the other graves.” But recently I noticed a seismic shift in myself, which has also considerably helped curb my FOMO: I realize that my family’s home world is just as valid as the outside world. I can rattle off all of the area ice rinks, but I don’t understand how my refrigerator or computer work. The same family members who help to ease the pace of our activities are the same ones who fix the mechanical stuff at home. Both knowledge bases matter, so why should I emphasize the importance of one over the other? Don’t they both have their place?

Now I’m seeing such richness from what each of us draws from our personal worlds. I tend to relax more into trusting the discernment of what each of us needs, and helping to make that happen instead of my own preferences for everyone. As a result, I don’t feel like I’m constantly missing out on important things when I choose to stay home. My friends’ photos from their outings hold more joy for me without that same tension that I felt before. I feel more empowered about my own life, where there isn’t as much room for FOMO to dwell as there used to be. I specifically write Kids’ Almanac to offer families special information about activities so that they can find the ones that are the best fit, instead of trying to do all of them. I hope that it proves to be part of your own antidote to FOMO.

 

There is one comment

  1. kristen

    Erica,
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your article on FOMO. I’ve never heard it before either, but can
    totally relate to its meaning. It takes work to be at peace with our daily decisions-
    especially as homeschoolers, right? Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoyed
    reading it.
    Kristen M.

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