Since living in Holland, I’ve missed some pretty big events back home. The births of my nieces and nephews, holidays, weddings, family gatherings… I really like living abroad, until I miss out on something wonderful back home, and FOMO sets in.
I missed my friend’s wedding last weekend. This is not the first time this has happened, and I know it won’t be the last. I’ve missed numerous weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, and parties. Holidays are particularly hard out here. No one quite gets how big the 4th of July or Thanksgiving is when it’s just another workday in your country.
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
When a big even pops up on my calendar, there’s a 95% chance I won’t be able to make it. Sure, I check my calendar, look up airfare and text my loved ones just in case there’s a chance I could possibly go. But, odds are I’m not going. Let’s be real. As much as I would love to go, it’s not reasonable to fly across the globe whenever there’s a party.
So, I end up at home, texting and face-timing my loved ones on the day of the event. I let the sadness from FOMO (fear of missing out) creep in, I give myself a good cry while looking at photos online, and I comment as I go through them. Then, I defend my lifestyle and say, well I choose to live here, and I think I’m very lucky to be where I am.
But, it’s still hard.
It’s not just FOMO. It’s all the emotions, nostalgia and connections your missing with this event. Over the weekend while my friend was getting married, I thought about how much I missed her and my other girlfriends who were attending the wedding. I miss how I could just be me with them. Then I thought about how much easier it would be to have friends who had a firm grasp on the English language. When was the last time I had a good heart to heart with a girlfriend, the kind I used to have when I lived in California? I can’t remember. It’s been so long, and I think it has something to do with my comfort level out here.
Choose Your English Words Wisley
Communicating, even with friends who speak English, is not the same as communicating with native English speakers, or other Americans. There is a real gap there, I’m not making this up. I want to say a joke without getting a blank stare or say something without the other not knowing the context and thinking it’s somehow improper to make light of an uncomfortable situation.
When operating in another country, English speakers have told me they have to be selective about the words they use. Use a word that is unfamiliar and you lose your audience. Use sarcasm and they may not be able to read you. Even simple phrases like, “let’s hang out” gets lost on people. They think, “hang out what? How do you hang out? What is that?” My husband told a patient they were healthy as an ox, and then realized that they probably didn’t know what he was saying. You have to be literal.
I miss communicating without limits. I miss the comfort of being able to say what’s on my mind, or in my heart, without changing or minimizing the feelings so it’s easier to understand.
Is my FOMO Part of a Communication Problem?
I’m a two-way communicator with my friends. Give and get. Give me some feelings, and I will give you feelings back. It makes me feel comfortable knowing that you trust me with your emotions, and therefore, I feel that I can trust you with mine. But how do you communicate complicated emotions when you can barely order a sandwich without getting lost in translation?
With my friends in California, there was no error in communication. They know me, and I know them. Talking was easy; it was comfortable.
With my friends in Holland, it’s good. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve received texts from them saying that they were there for me if I ever wanted to talk. I love getting those messages because I forget that I need to open up to them to clear out my feelings. Otherwise, I just mull over them, over and over again, until I break down.
I just haven’t brought myself to do it. I don’t feel like my friends here are my own. They are co-workers, colleagues, and all are woven in with my husband’s work. We don’t have a divide between personal and business out here. Everyone is affiliated with my husband’s work. Everyone knows everyone. None are my own.
With all this, I’ve put walls in place. I don’t have a best friend out here, I have friends and acquaintances. I keep it light and limit what I share. As you might have guessed, I’m particular about who I’m friends with. I’m a person who has few, but very strong, friends.
So, when I need a heart to heart, then it’s time to schedule a Skype date or hash it out in a string of text messages with someone who is nine time zones away. Therefore, it’s not always possible to talk to someone. Given this divide, I’ve placed myself in a mindset where I feel like I have to just deal with my emotions when I feel them. When I’m happy, sad or angry, I deal with it, solo.
Lately, a few new friends have appeared in Holland, and I think we’re getting to a nice comfortable level in our communication. I even feel like I can let my guard down from time to time and just tell them how I feel, and so far, it’s been nice! With that, I’m also realizing that I want to tell my husband how I feel, which I know I can always do, but with my solo mindset, I’ve just let feeling grow stale inside. So, I told my husband how I felt about missing my friend’s wedding, and all the ancillary emotions that came with it, and he said, “thank you for opening up to me.” Then it hit me, I’ve been holding back from my husband too! Why have I been doing this to myself?!
Umm… Thank You, FOMO?
So, this difficult weekend has brought some realizations to me. Remember, things happen for a reason. We grow stronger with difficult times, and difficult feelings. I learned that I have been holding myself way back from my community out here. My feelings have been dictating my comfort with my friends. I hold my friends in California, whom I hardly ever see or even talk to, in higher regard with my personal feelings, than with anyone out here in Holland. I’m still selective about what I share, but I think I’m able to grow a little more in my little community out here. The mindset will get toxic if emotions are bottled up. So, with that realization, FOMO has highlighted where I’m stalling in my personal relationships in Holland, and how healthy and important it is to express a little more of myself when I’m going through a difficult time.