Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FOMO - Fear of Missing Out

If there's one question/statement that I don’t like being asked much since moving to Copenhagen it's: 'you must be having such a great time'. I don't like it because it makes me feel like a fraud. Why am I not feeling what people expect me to? 

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing positives about packing up and moving abroad. And yes, some of the experiences I've had so far I could never have dreamed of. But for some reason, there is something inside me that isn't allowing me to relax, succumb and fully embrace the situation I find myself in.

It wasn’t until I read an article in a magazine that explained exactly what I was feeling and why. The article was called 'FOMO – Fear of Missing Out'. We all have it, we always have and we always will, but sometimes we feel it more strongly. FOMO refers to the blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up when we hear or read about what others are doing.

With the rise of social media we are slowly becoming known as the FOMO generation. Unlike our parents' generation, we don't just have to "keep up with the Jones" but also the Smith’s, Hansen’s, Webber’s and Carter’s, and the 400+ other friends we have on Facebook and Twitter. We are a generation who now constantly feel like underachievers and it is leading to unhappiness.

I can remember vividly when I first felt the full effect of FOMO since moving to Copenhagen – it was my birthday. I received a very unexpected and beautiful gift from two friends, who were also former colleagues. As I read the card I was hit with strong feelings of envy, anxiety and sadness. Why? The principle reason was because one of my friends got a promotion. I should have been really happy for her but I couldn’t help thinking 'that should be me'. To make matters worse, I was just sitting at home alone (while J was at work), on the other side of the world, jobless without even a glimmer of employment on the horizon. And it was because of this, that I had a ridiculous reaction to my friend's news that was absolutely worth celebrating.

FOMO makes us afraid that we have made the wrong decision about how to spend our time. And for me, my FOMO is firmly anchored to my job. Without a job I feel rudderless. Every time I hear about someone else's work, whether it be back home or here in Denmark, my FOMO anxiety grows. 

I retaliate and deal with my FOMO in a very typical but also very juvenile manner – I publish photos, messages and blog posts about the 'amazing' exploits I'm having. It makes me feel better. Subconsciously, in dealing with my FOMO I am creating FOMO in others - so the cycle continues.

It does make me wonder: when will we realise that the grass is not always greener on the other side? I don’t think the answer is to simply settle for what we have (there's always room for improvement), but I do think it is about taking the time to appreciate what we have and not worry so much about what others have or what they are doing.

So now I am trying to 'live in the moment' - learning to enjoy my free time, experiencing new things and not worrying about what I cannot control. I think it is working!

Miss H


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pilgrimage to the homeland

When you move to a new country the question, "what nationality are you?" becomes part of the standard small talk repartee. "I'm Australian," is my obvious reply. Rarely have I added that I'm actually half-Greek and half-Australian. Why is it that most people concentrate on the place they grew up, not their actual heritage? For me, I have never really 'felt' half-Greek. Perhaps that's because I didn't grow up in a conventional Greek family - I am an only child, I don't speak the language (even though my mum does and my grandparents speak minimal English), I never went to Greek school and rarely to Greek church, we never mixed within the Greek community, and I never had Greek friends. Maybe this is also part of the reason why it has taken me 27 years to visit Greece.

I always knew that the first time I would go to Greece would be with my mum. But the older I got, the harder it became to coordinate. In hindsight, I am actually really glad I went there with mum as an adult and not as a child. As an adult I was able to talk to her about our family history with maturity and perspective. Certainly visiting now reinforced to me how lucky I was to have grown up in Australia with all the opportunities it affords.

Of the five children of my great-grandparents, only my grandmother (Yia Yia) left Greece. At the time, my grandfather had family in Australia who emigrated during the Greek Civil War in the late 1940s. My grandparents sought opportunities in a new country and were sponsored to come out. I still don't really know why no-one else followed.

Because they stayed, I have a large extended family in Greece, but I use the tearm family very loosely. To the Greeks, you're "family" even if you are seventh cousins through marriage! I wasn't complaining - we were given the "family discount" (ie, drinks on the house and food you didn't order). But on the down side, it did mean I went back to Denmark a few kilos heavier, seeping olive oil out of my pores.

It was nice to go somewhere where I wasn't considered short, dark or ethnic, and where wild curly hair was normal. I felt comfortable there. I also discovered that in Greece, telling the truth means you care. Everywhere else it means you are a rude biatch! They have no problem telling you that you're fat, living in sin, or bringing shame on the family. What a relief! I can blame my heritage when I forget to think before I speak.

I had the most amazing time with my mum.  Thanks mum for taking me - it was well worth the wait. But I am not waiting another 27 years to go back.

Olympieion - what was the temple of Olympian Zeus

Left, Hadrian's Gate and right, the Parthenon on the Acropolis

Left, standing at the entrance to the Acropolis and right, mum and me on top of the Acropolis

Sitting in the Royal box at Panathenaic Stadium (Olympic Stadium)

Number 1!!!

The gate way to Spetses Island

Leaving Spetses for Kranidi (town where mum was born)

My extended Family - three generations of women

Left, the house where my Yia Yia grew up and where mum was borne and right, celebrating St Mama's Day by making small boats and sending them out to sea

Mum and I quad biking it around Spetses

The 11th century church of Panaghia Kapnikarea built in honour of the goddess Athena