In elementary school, I was a part of “young journalists”, an extracurricular class where we learned how to write and present news.
One day, our teacher surprised us with something amazing.
She got in contact with the biggest national radio and they agreed to let us come to their headquarters to present a news segment on LIVE AIR. Imagine you just told a bunch of kids, pretending to be journalists, that they could go to a real radio station and present news, live to the whole country.
You cannot imagine our excitement when we heard this.
I was hyped all week. This was the most amazing thing that had happened to me.
But then… the night before, I got sick. Like, burning fever and can’t get out of bed sick. I still wanted to go, but physically couldn’t. So I stayed home while everybody else went to the station and did something not many people, let alone kids, do in their lifetime.
I still remember the next morning, laying in my bed alone, sick, and sad, listening to my friends on a live program. I felt like I had missed the opportunity of my life. At the very least, an important milestone.
Fast-forward about twenty years, to last weekend.
I was supposed to go to a team building event with my new company. The whole thing would be full of leisure: spending the day in nature, filled with sports activities, and delicious gourmet food. It would be my chance to bond with new colleagues and become a part of their “inner circle”.
This event has been talked about for months. Everybody was excited about it.
You can see where this is going…
Few days before it, I got sick. So like my young journalism days, and many times in between, I struggled with the decision of “should I stay or should I go”?
I tried to force my body to recover quicker. I tried to make adjustments that would allow me to go on the trip. But in the end, I decided to stay home and skip the team building, knowing that everybody else is going to have a great time and come back with stories I would be excluded from.
(And they did.)
You probably felt the same way on more than one occasion.
Maybe you weren’t sick, but you’ve had to make a choice whether to do something or not, whether to go somewhere or stay home. Or maybe you weren’t even invited, or never experienced something, and feel like you have missed an important milestone in life.
So you stayed home, stuck in your room, thinking about all the cool things you’re missing. Everything that’s potentially going to happen that you wouldn’t be a part of. You know exactly what you would gain from those experiences, if only the circumstances were different.
But did you ever ask yourself: “What would I lose by staying home?”
Seriously, how will your life be different tomorrow if you don’t go to that party, corporate event, or whatever? Is your life going to be worse? Is it really that big of a deal if you don’t go?
Pretty soon, you realize… it doesn’t matter as much as you think.
Yes, you will miss out on a few stories and private jokes. But so what? By next month, people will have moved on to the next thing.
Do you remember that “amazing party” from five years ago?
Even better, do you remember that party you didn’t go to five years ago?
Because the thing that’s at the core of this problem is something you’re probably aware of, but don’t like to admit — FOMO, the fear of missing out.
The same thing that makes you feel bad when you scroll through Instagram or TikTok and see people drinking champagnes on expensive yachts. You think to yourself: “Damn it, why am I not doing that? My life is worthless.”
It’s the same feeling you get when you realize you haven’t had a threesome, or dated a model, or traveled the world. The same feeling that makes you feel bad when you see people settling down and having babies, while you’re traveling to your 100th beach destination and dealing with drunk tourists.
You think your life is worth less because you missed out on those experiences.
But will they still matter a year from now? Five years from now? Twenty? Is your life better today because you did something cool five years ago? Or is it just a distant memory that made you feel amazing in the moment, but has now faded?
Last Friday, I felt bad about missing team building. Today, it’s not even on my mind. And of all the young journalists that visited the radio station that way, I’m probably the only one who still remembers that story.
Missing milestones doesn’t matter.
You are always missing out on something and most of those things don’t matter much. The feeling you’re chasing is temporary because you’re always looking for something new and more exciting.
So relax. Stay home. There will always be something new around the corner.
And chances are, it’s going to amazing.