New year, new goals, same old bad habits. Sometimes things are easier said than done. As social media continues to rise, so does its affect on mental health. As much as I enjoy and rely on apps like Instagram, I too fall victim to the FOMO effect.
FOMO, as the kids say these days, is an acronym for the term “fear of missing out.” In a nut shell, it’s a more light-hearted way to describe the depression that comes along with comparing your life to other’s on social media. While the new year ignites a fire in us, it also happens to be the time of year when my seasonal depression is on the rise. As I sit at home under the cold and gray skies of the Buffalo tundra, I scroll through countless Instagram posts of those lucky sailors cruising to the Bahamas and Caribbean. I wish I could do that.
While I understand that everyone only posts the ‘good things’ to social media, I also know that the sailing life isn’t always glamorous. That doesn’t stop the envy or the dream. For me, the depression isn’t only caused by simply seeing all of the wonderful things people are doing. Beautiful posts aside, I also am left with one crippling feeling…the feeling of not being good enough to do the same.
For example, I am a part of a Facebook group for female sailors. It is amazing to be in connection to so many sailing women all over the world. When I scroll through group posts, it isn’t just seeing all of the places those are cruising to that make me second guess myself. It’s the questions/chat about various boat maintenance, visas, navigation, insurance etc. I am going to tell you right now, I don’t know shit about engines, course mapping, electrical issues or general boat repairs. Nothing. I’ve never cruised. I’ve never crossed an ocean. Seeing all of this makes me think, how can I plan to purchase a boat of my own when I know none of this?
OR, the resounding question of:
“Does not owning a boat make me not yet worthy enough to call myself a sailor?”
Some have questioned why I have yet to buy a boat. The answer to that is simple. I am a freelance photographer who also owns a home. After some shit health in 2018, I have medical bills too along with your other standard bills. It takes a little longer to save for something big when you have other things that take priority….but I am saving.
This isn’t meant to rain on the parade of those who do have their own boats and are out there exploring. I think what you are doing is amazing and I aim to do the same. But it’s hard at times seeing all of those pretty squares and listening to all of the knowledgeable chit chat. I will say that even though the envy is strong, I am not sitting around doing nothing. I try to learn as much as often as I can. I ask for help and opportunities to further my skillset. They say the difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. I (sort of) have a working plan towards buying my own boat. Purchasing my own boat, or the opportunity to cruise in exotic places may get rid of my FOMO, but then I am left with something arguably worse…FOD or the Fear of Doing.
FOD is not an actual term, I made it up. But it is so real. I try to stay positive and tell myself that in due time, I will achieve my goals. Have you ever had a passion or a goal that fueled you intensely, but also scares the hell out of you? Having your own boat means helming the boat. Even with the few years of sailing experience I have, the helming position is not one of them. My experience there is slim, and it gives me anxiety to think about it. Sure, everyone is scared to drive at first when they are 16, but then they learn and it all works out. Does learning to helm a boat feel the same? Here are some of the fears:
“Even when I buy a boat, how the hell do I learn how to get it in and out of the slip?”
“What if I put the throttle on too high and smash it into the dock or other boats?”
“What if something breaks while I am on the Lake?”
Listen, I don’t want to sound like an idiot, I know more than I give myself credit for. Yes, there are courses I can take which I will look into in the future. But, my incredible ability to compare my life to others (in the worst way possible), combined with fear, impatience and occasional flawed confidence makes it hard at times to push forward in learning more about what I love.
“Am I just pretending to be something I am not?”
“Am I even cut out for this, or should I just give up now?”
I have already made a lot of progress in the last couple of seasons. This past year, not only did I take on a new position on the boat, but also completed my first long distance sail race as well. In the future I am looking to do more than just race. I will hopefully be helping out with deliveries this season in order to get my feet wet in a non-race setting. I hate to let my accomplishments be overshadowed by fretting over the things I have yet to learn or do.
I want to be a better sailor and I want more experience. Most of all, I want to do this on a boat I can call my own. I KNOW these are all things I can achieve. It can be done. While I continue to fight the FOMO and FOD, I refuse to let it halt me. To the dreamers and goal-getters out there who share a similar frustration, you are not alone.
Has anyone ever felt the same? Have you ever fell victim to FOMO? Are my fears normal or am I just overthinking everything? Sound off in the comments below.