For the first time in my life I am finally experiencing this thing called FOMO that people have been talking about for years. FOMO…fear of missing out. Back in the US I never experienced FOMO. I think I had the opposite of FOMO at home, I will call it IWRSAHTBTSWNWO. Or…I would rather stay at home than be trapped somewhere with no way out. The moment I would get a party invite or friends would discuss going out to a bar after dinner or I would be asked spontaneously to go spend the afternoon at the mall or a beach my mind would immediately go in to panic mode. I would begin to think of legitimate sounding excuses, think of how I could convince everyone I need to drive separately and plan my exit route in case I felt stuck. Literally my mind would be racing and I would become nauseous. In the end I would accept about half of the invitations I received and feel left out of the other half sitting at home with Barley. As soon as I would arrive at a place I was always ok and ended up enjoying myself. I am a fairly social person and am able to converse with most people I encounter. What people never saw though was this intense anxiety that was present deep inside me BEFORE arriving at the outing. This is a side of me that has been hidden from the outside world for years and very few people that meet me would believe I struggle from social anxiety disorder.
My first month in Thailand I still carried those social anxieties with me. I only went out to the bars one time in my month in Chiang Mai and I refused trips to both Chiang Rai and Pai with my TESOL peers. I wanted to go but I declined the invitations because I knew in a foreign country I would not have any control of the situation and that terrified me. I was filled with excuses. It is too expensive, I am too old to go out and drink, I have nothing in common with people 10 years younger than me. As I was lying in bed a few months ago I realized that all these opportunities may only be given to me once in a lifetime. I may have lost my only chance to get to Chiang Rai and Pai and I definitely lost opportunities to get to know the people from my TESOL group on a different level. I am only in Thailand for a finite amount of time and I need to take advantage of every moment. If I was just going to hide away in my cave I may as well still be in Eagan, Minnesota.
When I moved to Phayakapphum Phisai I promised myself I would be different. I promised myself I would not let any opportunity, no matter how small, pass me by. I decided to cast my control and fears aside and just go for it. I did not want to miss out on anything! For the first time of my life I have developed FOMO and it feels great! I have been to two Thai weddings, a Buriram United football match, a Thai memorial service, drove 2 hours to Roi Et to pick up a dress for my Thai best friend’s mother, drank Chang with numerous groups of Thai teachers at dinner parties, fed the monks, swam in the Gulf of Thailand at Jomtien Beach, set a krathong a sail, climbed 300 stairs to see a giant Buddah at Khao Kradong forest park, took a night trip to Na Dun and the list goes on. I refuse to let any more opportunities slip by.
I still have not let my practical side go however. I remain the fiscally responsible, well grounded self I have always been and always will be. I have just learned how to analyze situations on a different level and ask myself “am I saying no to an opportunity because I legitimately do not have the money now or am saving money for other travel endeavors?” or “am I saying no because I am scared and just making excuses?” If the answer is the latter I take a deep breathe, tell myself I will be fine, accept the invitation graciously and have the time of my life.