FOMO: the “fear of missing out.”
From its humble beginnings as nothing more than four letters strung together, a word was born. Thanks to its wildly popular adoption into the vocabularies of our country’s younger demographic, Oxford Dictionary felt compelled to preserve FOMO’s place in history, right between “fomite” and “fomor.” That being said, I want to pay tribute to the newly established word by explaining what gives me FOMO (and what I am doing about it).
This summer, I left my cushy Wall Street job, complete with its full suite of corporate perks and outsized bonus, in pursuit of something more fulfilling. The countless hours I spent trapped in front of a computer monitor – the mouse and keyboard my most powerful tools – provided an opportunity to explore the infinite depths of the Internet for anything more stimulating than the work I was supposed to be doing. On one rather memorable occasion, I recall finding an article titled, “Top 10 Places to See Before You Die.” Upon reading the article, I had one of those so-called “moments of clarity.”
Of the ten places on the list, only one was on U.S soil: the Grand Canyon. Realization: there is a world out there I had yet to explore and I wasn’t getting any younger. Talk about FOMO! I had yet to check out Machu Picchu, to walk the Great Wall of China, or to visit a single of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. So to me, the notion that I should spend my youth gaining work experience seemed rather shortsighted.
As Americans, we often fall victim to the belief that our way of doing things is the correct way. As a culture, we tend to be driven by the accumulation of wealth and support the notion of capitalism at seemingly any social cost. I, myself, am the perfect example of the system at work. Coming out of college, my main priority was making as much money as possible, which led me directly to Wall Street. Two years later (and two years wiser), I realize money doesn’t necessarily translate into happiness.
Adam 2.0 has vowed to become a better citizen of the world. My priorities have shifted away from the accumulation of wealth and toward the accumulation of experiences. My biggest fear is no longer dying broke but dying boring. So what’s up next for me? An extended trip to “the other America,” our neighbor down south to do some long overdue cultural (and self) exploration.
South America, with its multitude of awe-inspiring natural and man-made attractions, represents so much more than a sightseeing opportunity for me. It represents an opportunity for complete immersion in a culture foreign to mine through interaction with people much different than me. For someone as intellectually curious as myself, the danger inherent in traveling to parts unknown is not necessarily one of safety but rather one of having the desire to return home.
I want to sample Chilean wine straight from the Central Valley, eat grass-fed Argentinian beef from Pampa Húmeda, and indulge in fresh Colombian coffee from the Paisa region. I want to speak a bit of Spanish (who knows, maybe even some Brazilian Portuguese), sharpen my fútbol skills, and learn to tango. There simply won’t be enough time in the day to satisfy all of my desires.
The way I see it, traveling creates experiences, experiences create interesting people, and interesting people are most likely to succeed. By trading in a BlackBerry for a backpack and a suit for sneakers, I am positioning myself to succeed, albeit in a far more intriguing manner. If the saying “we are nothing more than the sum of our memories and experiences” is true, leaving my professional life behind was the best investment I could have made.