We’re living in an age where we’re all overscheduled, underslept, and chronically “busy.”
We sign our kids up for t-ball, soccer, chess club, tae kwon do, gymnastics, and music lessons and spend all of our time carting them from one activity to another while we’re also trying to keep up with work, friends, the gym, relationships with our spouses, and maybe even some celebrity gossip.
We have this deep-seated fear of missing out on, well, everything.
This post isn’t really about any of those things. Sort of.
But I have FOMO By-proxy.
As a child and teenager, there was almost nothing I wouldn’t try. I would audition for roles I wanted (which I wouldn’t get) and try out for sports teams (which I wouldn’t make) just because I wanted to. I put myself out there. Sometimes it paid off. A lot of times it didn’t. But even still, I gained something from the experience.
I considered myself a Renaissance person, and still sort of do.
Joshua is slow to warm up to new things and ideas. He often seems afraid of new things and almost no amount of “try it, you’ll like it!” will persuade him.
I watch him on the playground climbing some of the structures, studying them, carefully deciding where to place his foot next to go up another level. When he gets stuck, he wants down.
He already seems afraid of failure to the point that if he thinks he’ll be unsuccessful, he just won’t try. Not trying is easier to handle than trying and failing.
When I signed him up for swimming lessons, I tried to take him by the pool area so that he could see it. He turned into a Stage 5 Clinger and screamed when I stepped onto the pool deck. Watching him not only get in the water at his first swim lesson but also enjoy it made my heart soar in a way I didn’t know it could.
There was my boy. Trying something new. Smiling. Enjoying himself.
Tears welled up in my eyes. He took a chance after having been too scared to even come out of the locker room.
Where others are afraid of what they themselves will miss out on, I worry about what Joshua will miss out on if he remains afraid of trying new things.
I push him to try knowing I can only push him so far. So much.
I don’t want him to miss out on one single opportunity to enjoy his life, and live a full one at that. I’m afraid of all of the experiences he won’t have if he never tries.
I know I shouldn’t worry. I know I shouldn’t. But I do.
On Sunday, to keep him familiar with the water between lessons, we took him back to the pool. He was hesitant at first, but once he warmed up to the idea, he was in the water.
He splashed. He climbed in and out. He played with us and Emma. He had fun.
I know that he’ll figure things out in his own time and in his own way. He’ll go at his own pace.
He’ll decide for himself what he likes and doesn’t like. What he wants to do and doesn’t want to do.
But until then, part of me will always be afraid of what he’s missing.