Thought Catalog

(A Fear A Day) Fear Of Fear Of Missing Out

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Jason Tessier

Today’s fear is the fear that I am going to regret most of the decisions I am making right now.

There are so many ways to look back at 5 years ago and say ‘where would I be now if I had made a 5 year plan to be at a different place in my career? Or get really into fitness? Or just read a book or practice a meditation every day?’

I am spending all my time and energy doing things that I want to do, but I don’t know if they are the right things. I am not structuring myself, I am not planning ahead toward some future goal. I am just moving in the direction I want to move in, which is not the most efficient way to get somewhere. (But do I want to efficiently get to the wrong place?)

I write for the internet and I know how to get millions of people to read what I write. Why don’t I put all my energy into become someone like Food Babe or Money Babe. All I would have to do is pick one topic and only write about that in an attention-grabbing way and then start taking a bunch of pictures of myself doing that activity for Instagram and start having a funny take on everything for Twitter. I feel interested in and passionate enough about the topic of Anxiety that I could probably do this.

But I have no desire to be Anxiety Babe. I very fundamentally do not want to be Anxiety Babe (or, as my friend jokes when I told him of this possible plan, ‘Namaste Bae’). I have a desire to pursue my interests, which are multi-faceted and don’t lend themselves to branding because branding is about being one specific thing. It’s about a linear story. I hate that feeling of being fenced in, and I would have to give up everything I love about my career in order to be more successful at it. I can’t decide if I care about being more successful more than I care about getting to do this thing I love which is to chase and document my thoughts — pursue meaning, build a body of thinking that is going to take me somewhere, internally.

That’s what I want in life, if you asked me, but it still feels like something I might look back on and think of as painfully naive.

The other part of this fear: I’m 31. Should I be putting my energy into finding someone to be with and having kids with? I think the answer is that I couldn’t even type that question out without cringing and feeling like that’s not what’s right for me right now at all. But it seems like something you’re supposed to focus on doing by a specific time in life and if I am not doing it now, maybe when I do feel like doing it it will be too late.

I am craving hindsight, or even someone else who has it because all anyone can tell me is what most people think and it feels like a pyramid scheme. You hear a lot about how people are unhappy with their spouse or with their kids in the day to day but then you also hear about how they are great life decisions in the abstract — which seems either intellectually lazy or unintentionally dishonest.

I have this idea that you can’t speed up where you are, epistemically, and I don’t know if I am going to change my mind later and have wasted all this time. Not everything is about feeling good, why would my career and personal life decisions only be about what feels good to do right now? I don’t know where the right balance is between building something authentic and making realistic decisions that will get me to the life I am supposed to want.

It seems so complicated now, to figure this all out. I am worried for the day in the future when it will be painfully clear what I should have done. TC mark

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