Take a Moment to Savor the JOMO

So many of the headlines in recent months have focused on what we’re all missing while we live through a pandemic that is forcing us to socially separate. Milestones, like weddings, graduations, and award ceremonies. Beloved traditions, like birthday parties and family reunions. Shared community experiences, like restaurants, parades, concerts, or faith-based gatherings. Even day-to-day conveniences, like haircuts. (Who hasn’t complained about needing a haircut?)

But, there’s another side to it that, perhaps, we have overlooked.

I saw a meme over the weekend that isn’t entirely new, but it’s one that I think is particularly relevant: JOMO, the joy of missing out. JOMO is the antonym (or maybe just the cooler cousin, as I’ve heard it said) of FOMO, or fear of missing out.

Of course, we all fear and mourn what we’re missing in this moment — especially precious time with friends and extended family. The ability to just get in the car and drive somewhere without wondering whether or not you’ve packed masks and hand sanitizer, or if you’ll be able to safely social distance when you get there. We miss handshakes, pats on the back, and hugs.

And yet, my sense is that we are all observing and experiencing new things as a result of the pandemic. For me, working from home and staying off the road — whether that’s driving to my office or flying halfway across the world to one of our many locations — has meant more time with my nuclear family, more sleep, a better diet, and less overall anxiety.

Yes, I said less anxiety.

Don’t get me wrong; I am incredibly concerned by the coronavirus transmission numbers we’re seeing here in the United States and this virus unnerves me. There is no joy in watching numbers climb with no obvious end in sight. But I can tell you that being off the road for months now has definite health benefits. Many of the mundane, day-to-day worries of work life are gone (e.g., dealing with traffic, flight delays, jet lag, etc.).

I say, “Good riddance!” Well, at least for the time being.

Because there is absolutely JOY. Petra, my sixteen-year old, asked me to wake her yesterday so we could watch the sunrise together (SERIOUSLY). Raya, my thirteen-year old, rode 20 miles on her bike on Saturday, something she has never done before. And, she’s far less anxious as well (apparently, it runs in the family). I love my job, and I know that I’m setting a powerful example for both my daughters in terms of what they can achieve in their own futures. But this extra time with them has truly been an unexpected — and invaluable — blessing.

Friends of mine have taken up (or returned to) earlier passions that fell by the wayside as they juggled their busy pre-pandemic lives. Reading, writing, knitting, painting, music … even jigsaw puzzles and baking are just some of the pursuits that are having a bit of a renaissance in this time of virtual reclusion. (If you need convincing, just try to find sourdough starter; it’s as elusive as toilet paper was three months ago or google pandemic baking and see banana bread soar to the top.)

With movie theatres closed, families are bingeing on-demand television together. Networks are stepping up with innovative offerings, like Hulu’s LGBTQ+ coming-of-age series Love, Victor and Netflix’s Never Have I Ever featuring a first-generation American teen. And, we’re already planning to watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s record-breaking Hamilton when it premieres on Disney+ July 3rd. (Just think of the money we’ll save and the amazing time we’ll have!)

I won’t minimize the challenges we face — and will, unfortunately, continue to face — in the midst of this pandemic. But, I do want to find the silver linings where I can and enjoy the moments that this time has afforded.

So, let’s hear it for JOMO. There is joy to be had — and I’m confident that we can each find a bit of it for ourselves.

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