JOMO

I am JOMO. Ok, that is grammatically incorrect (JOMO is a noun), but it feels so much like my experience that it’s hard not to fully embrace it. I’ve only just learned about JOMO, and hearing about it felt like, “There is is! I’ve been waiting for this!”

I will explain JOMO. FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is a phenomenon whereby a person cannot say no to any social engagement because they will hate the resulting experience of being the only person not present when “The most amazing thing happened!” JOMO is Joy of Missing Out and is defined as follows: “Feeling content with staying in and disconnecting as a form of self-care.”

I am such a JOMO. Every weekend, every moment of free time, I retreat as far as possible from human interaction. During a recent week off, I held a record of not going outside for four straight days, but then my husband made me take the dogs for a walk. This weekend, I haven’t left the house since I got home on Friday afternoon. That is quite typical of me. I will not leave the house unless I absolutely have to, and absolutely have to is kind of a relative term (do I absolutely have to buy food? Nah, I’ll just eat crackers and peanut butter until Wednesday when the vegetable box gets delivered.)

I often feel very guilty about this. It sounds unhealthy right? Go outside! people will cry. Interact with others and join groups and get a hobby! “You really should do some sports,” my Doctor has suggested. “You’ll make more friends and it’ll help you lose weight.” I have tried all these things (writing groups, sewing clubs, running groups, yoga and pilates classes, French classes, book clubs) but they don’t hold my interest for long and the human interaction is superficial and leaves me feeling worse than before I left the house. 

So, to have JOMO presented as an acceptable state of being is very rewarding, perhaps vindicating. I am disconnecting as a form of self- care. I need to stay inside on a beautiful day. I must avoid going to that community beach clean-up. The street party right outside my front door is absolutely impossible for me to attend. You see, I’m engaging in self-care right now, and I’m not to be disturbed.

Ok, ok, I get it. You’re thinking that I’m taking the self-care line a little too far. I can see how “JOMO” might be considered very defensive terminology, maybe even self-righteous. “You can’t judge me for watching tv all weekend! This is my self-care!” Or perhaps JOMO is avoidance behaviour and denial? “No, I’m not depressed. Sitting in my room with the curtains drawn at 2pm on a Saturday is part of my self-care regimen. Duh.” Or maybe JOMO is just a handy excuse to be selfish. “I’m sorry, I can’t make it on Friday. I need to disconnect as part of my duty of self-care, and that’s more important than your birthday.”

Sure, all those things sound like probable JOMO pitfalls, much the way FOMO is used to mock those who obsessively seek or crave new ways to be at the centre of the action. Although, perhaps FOMO is too judgemental a term.  Apparently those extroverts actually need social interaction as their form of self-care (ridiculous). Maybe the fear they experience is a rational reaction to a potential disconnection from their community. 

Pffffff. Whatever. I don’t care about those extroverts. The point is, I get that I could overly justify the “self-care” element of JOMO. But it is nice to recognise that my choice to completely hide away and just lie around all weekend might have been because I just plain needed to do it.

I spend my whole working week listening to the needs of others and making myself available and thinking about things from the perspective of others and organising people so they all get what they need and asking people how they are and being a super good listener and making connections so people know I care about them and never allowing my moods to affect the learning environment and saying “I’m fine, thanks.” and never losing my temper and never telling people exactly what I’m thinking and just letting it go because its not worth the fight and listening to 5 children tell me stories at the same time and remaining calm when I’m interrupted again and letting kids hug me and giving kids attention when they seek me out because I make them feel safe even though I’ve got 10 emails to write in the next 20 minutes and

My cousin is a physiotherapist who works with patients with Acquired Brain Injury. She is giving of herself all day. One year, for a change of pace, she took a job doing data entry and analysis at a hospital. It was a desk job, with very little interpersonal interaction. When I asked her how it was she replied, “You know, I was really shocked by how much energy I actually had at the end of the day. I would get home and think, ‘Wow, I actually want to go out dancing!’ I felt like I could have a whole extra part of my life to play.”

I freakin’ knew it.

So maybe JOMO is a job-related hazard. Maybe JOMO is my job-related hazard. I actually like the social interaction of being a teacher; and a lot of what I like about that social interaction is that it isn’t about me. It’s just that, in order to be that selfless come Monday morning, I need my JOMO to get me ready for the game. 

Could my JOMO take a slightly healthier form? Sure. But self-care is incremental; I start from what I absolutely need first and when I’m ready I can move on to the more impressive stuff. Like going outside.

9 thoughts on “JOMO

  1. What I love about this whole thing is the way you are processing every angle of what it means for you. You aren’t just saying, “I’m Jomo” you are saying a whole lot more about why, when, and how. If you didn’t know all these bits and pieces maybe it would have a different meaning for you but recognizing that you are taking a minute, to totally shut off, in some respects, sounds like you are seeking some stability to balance out the chaos of the week. Which I know we all can relate to the draining aspects of all that even though almost all of us absolutely love it, as you do too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this! Like you I could spend all weekend alone. I need to be away from others to recharge. Teaching is emotionally draining and I need to recharge my battery by not talking to anyone outside my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my – where has JOMO been all of my life? This is the perfect phrase. I am super-impressed that you made it four days without going outside. Rather than feel like I should scold you, I want to give you a high five. My husband, darling man that he is, insists that I should *really* go outside every day, even in the winter. I try – I do! – but sometimes Saturdays are just too hard. And I have managed the occasional weekend in, even though I have children who, you know, I send outside. I appreciate all the ways you look at JOMO and all the thought you put into it. Sounds to me like you’re doing the right thing for you – and I love your last line. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have read ten gatrillion slices this month, and this one just might be my favorite of everything I’ve read. It’s an amazing essay, by turns funny and thoughtful and provocative. Also, JOMO! That’s exactly what I’ve been missing all my life! I sometimes feel bad because the only time I have FOMO is when I’m at a conference and there are 12 sessions I want to attend in the time slot. Otherwise, it’s JOMO all the way. And I suspect you are very right in your theory that it’s a job-related hazard.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, ma’am. I am very with you on this. I think it’s part of why I enjoy my dialogues via screen in the evenings. Writing feels a whole lot easier than holding a living, breathing, sound-making conversation after a day at work. I appreciate your processing as you go, weighing the pros and cons and observing yourself the whole way. This piece is conversationally reflective and as I read the comments, there’s a sense of homecoming. Like, here we are, all the JOMOs! All the JOMOs in the house, just sigh. Funny to get near the end of this slicing month and feel like you found the right party. Thanks for having us over without having to have us over. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! Your last three sentences are amazing. They get me, you get me. 🙂 You’re so right though, we’ve found our people. It’s crazy how much more I feel like myself writing to people than speaking one-on-one sometimes.

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