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.