Wherever you are in this moment, in whatever chair or couch or passenger seat you occupy, you cannot be somewhere else. And just as certain as the sun rises in Kathmandu before Kona, things are happening without you in all of those infinite places where you are not.

The Best Place to Be is Somewhere Else

This has always been the case; things have always been happening in all of the places where our parents and their parents their parents’ parents were not. But in the last few years, thanks to social media (yes, this blog included) and phenomena like “Facebook image crafting,” longing to be where we are not has slowly eclipsed our attraction to the very things that are happening around us, right where we already are. For some of us, a seemingly innocuous interest in the reality someone else is occupying develops into an affliction known as FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out. FOMO is the ultimate manifestation of a bright green lawn on your neighbor’s side of the fence.

Dear FOMO I think of You Constantly

When I secured the IRONMAN World Championship (a.k.a. Kona) qualification in July, I had a big decision to make. For me, my wallet, and my vacation days, I could only choose one final race to end the season: Kona in October or IRONMAN Arizona in November.  Knowing that Hawaii would be too far for my parents to travel, and that Arizona was both driveable and chemo-friendly for my dad, I traded 1st class Kona for runner-up Arizona.  (More on that.)

But before officially declining the slot, I shared with my confidant and fellow Kona qualifier my intention to do so. He questioned whether I might regret my decision once October arrived and pictures of crystal-clear water, fancy tri swag, and pro triathlete cameos overtook my friends’ Facebook feeds. As I weighed my options, FOMO fluttered in my stomach. I started to fear all that I would miss if I passed up the opportunity to race on triathlon’s greatest stage.

Hawaiian Punch

I’ve written at length on this blog about the ways in which my Peace Corps service in rural Nepal and Ecuador continues to enrich my life today.  In July, as the final hour approached to claim my Kona slot, a certain Peace Corps story cured my FOMO, and left me at peace with my decision to let the slot roll.

Nepali Friends

That story goes something like this: Upon finishing my Peace Corps service, I had a conversation with a young graduate hesitating to submit his application to the Peace Corps. (The Peace Corps is a two-year, voluntary service commitment that sends volunteers to work in rural villages still undiscovered by cartographers.)

Like a product of his generation, this young man was afflicted with FOMO. “But two years is soooo long,” he worried. “Imagine what I’ll miss!” I smiled and thought of my villages and my work and all that I experienced in Ecuador and Nepal. “It’s true,” I replied, “but imagine all the things you’ll miss if you stay right here.”

I don't mind being frightened

Each of us has the choice to cure our own FOMO–the choice to embrace, to own, to partake in the things happening all around us, in the exact location where our successes and failures, our priorities and obligations have led us. Instead of fearing all of the things we are missing out on where we are not, we have the choice to enrich all that is happening right where we are. 

Big Party

Best wishes to everyone racing on the Big Island this weekend! I’ll be cheering for you from across the ocean and across a continent, from my little green(ish) lawn.

Sunset El Altar Refugio Ecuador

16 responses to “FOMO

  1. As always, such a thoughtful and enjoyable blog, Kendra. Best of luck…in Arizona 🙂

  2. 💕🌎✈At PEACE with your decision….💙love it. LOVE you and the spilled paint into the shapes of the Hawaiian Islands. Cheering you on in ARIZONA 🌀 soon.
    Moo & Poppy Tony💙💜

  3. I love these glimpses into your mind and heart, Kendra.

  4. Great commentary Kendra, as always. Such a thoughtful piece in every sense of the word. ❤ ❤

  5. Love it! So important to be present! Although if I was in Kona this weekend, i would have major FOMO on our pool party!! lol

  6. Hi Kendra. I just assumed your injury meant you were out for both Vegas and IMAZ. If not, very best of luck in Tempe!!! Great post.. going through this FOMO with College apps & decisions this Fall with my daughter. I will show her this!

    • Thank you, Will! Still on for IMAZ 🙂 Super excited to have my parents at the finish line. Injury set me back six weeks, but slowly coming back–slowly so I don’t reinjure myself! Best to you and your daughter. Big decisions ahead! –Kgo

  7. Going back to AZ…where it all started a few years ago. Show that course who’s the boss….

  8. Really nice and enjoyable blog 😉

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