Suffering from Fear of Missing Out this Summer?

I have to admit that summer is a mixed bag for me.  I recently recognized that I carry huge, unrealistic expectations of summer and what it should bring me.  A wise person told me that expectations are just disappointment and resentment under construction.

I remember counting up the number of weekends in a summer and the confusion that there could be so few, when I should get so much from this sunny season.

There are the hikes, the bike rides, the lazy beach days and camping trips.  Alongside all of these desires, I want to feel connected to my family and friends. Maybe I picked up these ideas from TV commercials or movies, where beautiful people are having fun in spectacular settings, never working or cleaning up after themselves. Maybe this is just another iteration of the human condition:  a longing for something more than what is.

In childhood I had almost no responsibilities for months in the summer.  Although we were not wealthy, my parents were teachers so we had access to them all summer.  We got to camp and water ski and bask in the sun all day.  Some part of me longs for that endless summer, sleeping in and waking up to the next adventure.

However, as a teen I began to suspect that lots of fun things were happening elsewhere, and I was missing out.  Why wasn’t I invited?  What were the cool kids doing today?  What was I supposed to do in order to get into that elusive club?  How could I be good enough (or bad enough) to deserve this?

As usual, I am a bit ashamed to admit the truth:  I still feel this way sometimes in the summer.  Was I supposed to plan better?  Reach out more often?  Earn more money? I am coming to understand that a very young part of me hasn’t quite come to terms with some summer longings.  This part still wants to be invited, included and accepted unconditionally. She is too young to recognize how full life already is, like the young one who wants more ice cream, not wise enough to see the tummy ache that’s part of that package.

The wisdom of the yoga sutras recognizes that desire is part of the pain we all experience.  Desire is blind to the beauty and richness of the moment – it only wants more.  Even while the s’more is doing its gooey thing in the mouth, the hands reach for the graham crackers again.  Today, when I hiked to a spectacular view of the San Juan Islands, from the Chuckanut Mountains, I saw the Olympic Mountains and wanted to be there as well!

There are a few remedies for desire, but first it must be acknowledged, and remembered as a common, human experience.  If a small child says she wants more, we can answer, “Of course you do.”.  There is no shame, only camaraderie.  No fixing, just holding.

Because my summer dream has lived in me for so long, I can expect grief as I learn to release it, because it is a loss.  Something is dying.  Only in allowing this longing to pass at its own pace, can I live into the space it will leave, and then wait to learn if something else will move into that space.

Other medicines for desire include gratitude, contentment and this mantra:

Nothing to do.
Nothing to undo.
Nothing to want.
Nothing is missing.

This comes from Sarahjoy Marsh, my yoga therapy teacher.  It can remind us that we are already whole, already complete, and nothing outside of ourselves is going to change this.

If you share my FOMO on a dream summer, you might want to create a ritual around transforming this into more ease and enjoyment.  I’m planning to do this with paint and canvas.  I like to work with acrylics, because of the process of layering color on top of color.  I may decide to leave a glimpse of my childhood summer peeking out, or maybe I will just remember those feelings as more of a dream-like friend, then make room for the new relationship to summer to reveal itself.

How is summer for you?  What is working?  Do you feel satisfied or ever-hungry for more? I would love to hear from you, about this or other dreams you’d like to share or put to rest.

Meanwhile, there are still hours left of the evening.  Maybe we can get in another sunset walk!


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