Feeling the FOMO? Confessions of an Industrious Outdoorsman
The outdoor community can be summed up in one word…extraordinary. Countless passions blend seamlessly with countless personas. Like the places we love and explore, this community, this lifestyle…is beautiful.
For some, this very drive and ambition can turn for the worst. What used to be fun is now stressful. What used to be a quest for a summit is now a quest for likes on Instagram. Like most things, these passions require balance. One thing I have always struggled with is that “off switch.” If I am not climbing, I am hiking, or running, or biking, or kayaking…I never find myself doing nothing. Commitments to friends, family, and the like, fall through your fingers because you, like me, can’t find your off switch.
As soon as your butt hits the couch, you pull up your phone and there it is, your “bro” just went and climbed one of your favorite peaks. You keep scrolling. Oh look, that couple we know is going to drink tea with the emperor of Japan while running an ultra-marathon. You set down your phone and look around. You have stuff to do, your body needs rest from that huge run you did yesterday, but what the hell. You grab your daypack and you are out the door. Enter FOMO.
FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out” is dangerous. It causes overuse injuries. It causes you to make dangerous calls in the mountains. And it causes you to lose enjoyment from what you are doing in the moment. As both an enthusiast, a mountain guide, and an athlete, I have seen the broad spectrum of bad decisions. Heck, I have made most of them.
I am not perfect. My soon-to-be wife still points out times when we need a break. We have a horrendous habit of being “that couple.” We get the constant “how do you guys do it?” or the “I wish we did as much as you guys.” In one ear, right out the other. To us, that epic traverse we did yesterday? Yeah, well that was yesterday. Fear of stagnation, fear of wasting your life, FOMO…That endless drive is not always a strength. It is okay to bail. It is okay to sit one out. It is okay to take a break and appreciate what you did last weekend.
I am no guru. I am no expert. And I am no monk balancing on my finger on a cliff’s edge. I do feel like I have learned a lot. At least more than I used to know. I always strive to learn, mainly from my mistakes on the mountain. Here’s a few take-aways:
- Be present in everything that you do.
It is not uncommon to be gathering with your friends at the trailhead and to already be discussing your next adventure. A lack of focus in what you are doing not only is a distraction, but it totally detracts from the great things you are accomplishing “in the moment.” You are awesome and your adventures are awesome. Don’t do your experiences a disservice.
- Bail Early, Bail Often.
I made a TON of mistakes when I started climbing. I have not changed much from the overambitious, cocky kid I once was. Many times, I found myself in a dangerous situation. I have often found myself being caught out on a ridge line during a storm, or committing to a route that I was not entirely confident on. Why? I would say my “sense of adventure,” but anyone who has been in that situation knows that adventure goes right out the window and is quickly replaced with pride and ego. When the “defecation hits the oscillation” it is imperative to keep a cool head. Mountain objectives were there before you, and trust me, they will be there way after you are gone. The more time you spend in the backcountry the more you hone your “mountain sense.” Any time I am guiding, or climbing with my fiancé, I keep an awareness of what can go wrong. If I see the air pressure dropping, and clouds rolling in, I know it is probably time to “about face” and head back down the mountain. Bail early, bail often. The outdoors are magical. You and I love this stuff, and we want to make sure we are able to keep doing this stuff for a very long time.
- It is okay to take a break.
Everyone can get burned out, even if they are doing what they love. Don’t get hung up on missing out. If you are mentally drained, need to prioritize other things, or even if your body is just beat down from training, a little down time can be exactly what you need in your life. Too much of anything, even a good thing, can be a bad thing. Your body or your mind will let you know what it needs. Have the sense to listen and sit one out when it is needed.
There are a lot more tips I can preach, but I feel like these three provide the most guidance for people like you and me. When it comes to the activities we love, it is all about longevity. Any medium in which we get outdoors should be treasured. Remember to listen to your body. Make sure to reel it back, take a second to smell the roses, and, most importantly, enjoy the view.