June 9, 2015 by jeliwobble
FOMO. Fear of missing out. It has dogged me continually since living here, and it’s a relatively new feeling for me, so it took me a while to perceive it for what it was.
For the first year, I was content to just get on with life. I didn’t really push any new relationships because, you know, we were moving back to the UK in a year and, as I don’t tend to make friends easily as I am very bad at small talk, it was too much work to do so. I was happy being a stay-at-home-mom/mum for the first time, enjoying being with my two small daughters, and not really missing working. We went home twice, for my sister’s wedding and for Christmas, as well as my parents visiting in the first October. I met some lovely people in that first year, but I wasn’t unhappy that those relationships were not lasting.
Oh Winter, how you despise me.
That first winter was a shock. Just the quantity of snow was awe-inspiring. I was used to less than a centimetre, if that. Some winters in the southern UK, it just doesn’t snow at all. The following year, once again, the snow and the cold shut us in for days at a time. I had no idea how to drive in snow and, though the roads are cleared pretty quickly, it scared me to be out with the possibility of snow.
In the middle of February of the second year, I reached my first crisis point. Being unable to leave the house had weighed heavier and heavier. Something had to give. I didn’t crumble though. Throwing caution to the wind, I invited a few ladies I’d grown close to at various toddler classes over for lunch. It was the first time I had really accepted that I couldn’t really continue without forming some closer friendships.
Three of those ladies became my good Middlie friends. But then our girls went to preschool and all four of us had another baby, quite close together. Rather than forming a little playgroup for our new babies, we all pretty much went our separate ways.
Instead, I joined another playgroup with Son. This time, I fairly threw myself into trying to form good relationships. It ended up being quite a big group of ladies and I had hopes for maintaining these relationships after the small people went to preschool and, to a certain extent, I did. But, gradually, the invites out tailed off, and it became more obvious that I wasn’t long-term friend material.
I take most of the blame for this. I am an introvert and I know I’m hard work to get on with. I don’t pick up the phone enough, or respond to emails in a timely fashion, and I’m definitely not the first person anyone thinks of when they want to go out and have fun. I am prickly and often carry a soapbox round with me that I stand on at inopportune moments, letting my mouth run away with me before my brain can apply the brakes. Even when I’m invited out, I find it difficult to get over the genuine anxiety that ‘They don’t really want to hang out with me’ enough to accept the invitation, and finding the gumption to invite people over or out seems to generally require a crisis of some kind. These things are truth and I own them as such.
That said, it doesn’t stop the feeling that I’m missing out on things from kicking me in the gut.
When you are 3000 miles away from your family, your friends become your surrogate family, as important to you as they are. Everyone needs human contact. Social contact can be as important as familial, even more so in a situation where your family is limited.
I am now in a small group of wonderful ladies for Smallest’s playgroup, and preschool is beginning to loom. I am already panicking, truly panicking, that once it is all over, my friends will begin to drift away from me again, having no connection with me other than our small people and, once they are gone to school, there will be no reason to continue to see each other any more.
I just don’t know how to stop it from happening, all over again.