FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is often used to get folks to buy, buy into, or sign up for things that are beyond their ability to pay for. When I say pay for, I mean fiscally, physically and emotionally. It’s a more gentle form of a scare tactic. Or a guilt trip…..and I am so sorry that it has taken over our society…..particularly our teaching community.
That might sound a little weird coming from someone who promotes conferences and works as a consultant. But I want teachers to know that they ARE NOT expected to do everything and be everywhere. When we do that we inevitably end up robbing Peter to pay Paul. We end up broke, and broken and it isn’t worth the price.
So be careful with FOMO. It’s true, this PARTICULAR conference will not come again (whichever one you are hoping to attend but don’t have the time/money/energy for.) But another one will. And a lot of the same people will be presenting and attending. It’s going to be a little sad, but totally okay if you don’t go.
Between 1990 and 2010, while my boys were growing up and living at home full-time, I just couldn’t go to much. It was impossible. Or, it was possible, but so much work to get everything arranged that I just couldn’t imagine it. Not to mention the money it would cost and the days I would have to miss from work (yes…many of us have second and third jobs.) When I could go, it was utterly amazing….and I so wanted to go to everything. It would have been wonderful. But it simply wasn’t possible.
I was already overworked and way behind on sleep. Overloaded on guilt and suffering from impossibly high expectations. I’m grateful that FOMO wasn’t so much of a “thing” then as it is now. I would have ridden the FOMO train and probably found a way to be the conductor. And did I really need that? More to feel bad about?
Nope, nope and nope. And neither do you.
Forget FOMO. Instead, try embracing. Embrace the time that you have with your children, or your parents, or your neighbor or whomever else needs you right now. Those moments go just as far to make us better teachers than a jazzy slide presentation. Embrace the moments that you have chosen to watch a game, or do laundry or even catch up on grading. Your sanity will thank you for it. Embrace the money that you didn’t spend and use it to pay off a bill, save for a real vacation or treat someone you love. You can’t buy wisdom and insight and patience. Embrace the fact that you have the emotional power to make the choices that you want to, rather than the ones you feel pressured into by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.
Don’t get me wrong….I want you to come to conferences, workshops and trainings. They are the gathering places for our community to meet in person, to share, to meet, to feel at home, to be professionally refreshed. But with so many choices, remember that advertising is designed to make you feel that every opportunjty is the big one, the most important one, the don’t miss one. Don’t go because you don’t want to miss anything. Go because you are in a position to be filled with all it has to offer. If you feel pressured, or guilty, step back. If you are not sure how you feel, step back. If you are really stretching to fit it in, step back.
If it is outside of your personal budget (time, money or energy), stay home. Settle in and put your feet up. Drink cocoa. Catch up on something (even sleep!) In the long run, you will be a better human being….which will make you a better teacher.
Our field is a great place to be right now. Many, many more opportunites are just around the corner. I promise.
So if I see you at a conference or a workshop I want you to be able to go all in and enjoy it…..or go home and get some rest. It’s a wonderful gift to give yourself. No fear, no pressure, no guilt. All ready, all in, all joy. We’ll be there when you’re ready.