WHY IMAGINARY DEADLINES ARE HOLDING US BACK
Last week, model Leomie Anderson coined the term Fear of Missing Out on My Goals, or FOMOMG. Writer Laura Jane Williams can understand her panic…
LATELY, I’VE FELT
‘good enough’ only for as long as I can keep 10 different plates spinning: my career, Instagram stories, figuring out the best time to start a family, navigating a mortgage, buying more scatter cushions, yoga.
I’ve been taught to hustle. To be a #girlboss with a multi-hyphen career who sees headlines about a 21-year-old being the highest self-made billionaire and wonders why she, herself, is so damned lazy. I must not have worked hard enough, I think, otherwise I’d have been on the cover of Forbes, too.
At 32, I sometimes despair I’ve already missed my best years. I feel too old to decide to dance, or retrain in astrophysics, or be on a 30-under-30 list. Model Leomie Anderson, 25, calls it FOMOMG – Fear Of Missing Out (on) My Goals: the worry of not achieving ‘enough’ for our age.
But while there’s nothing wrong with mentally having a checklist of what we’d like to do in a lifetime, if we’re too prescriptive we’ll go mad. Life isn’t really about ticking off achievements – it’s about understanding that most of us don’t get everything we want, and making the best of what we have. It’s also about accepting that the best stuff often can’t be planned.
Plus, I think we’re forgetting how long a lifetime actually is. We don’t need it ‘all’ – career, relationships, babies, travel, money – at some random age, like 30. Last week, Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted about her latest film, Halloween: ‘Biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55… #womengetthingsdone.’ I loved that. A woman with grey hair acknowledging that a lifetime of work was culminating in a moment of brilliant success. Fifty-something is the new thirtysomething.something. something. Time is not, actually, running out. If we think it is, we’re our own worst enemies. We forget what possibilities lie before us when we’re busy beating ourselves up about what hasn’t happened yet. The average female life expectancy is 80: I’ve probably got another 50 years to work on my aims and objectives. My panic-stricken 20-year-old mentee, Amy (20! Only 20!), told me, ‘Everyone needs to stop living like nothing ever happens after 30, like it’s stalemate from then on.’ I think: everyone needs to stop living like nothing happens after 40, or 50, or 60. I recently saw Joanna Lumley on tour and damn, she has the warmth and wisdom only 72 years of hindsight can give you. Ceramicist Pip Wilcox started the #Middleyearsmonday hashtag on Instagram (note that she doesn’t say ‘middle aged’), and following it brings me such joy: I see women with histories, and a future. We can have both if we take away our imaginary deadlines.
Tracee Ellis Ross (45) and US politician Maxine Waters (80) and 98-year-old Iris Apfel remind me that there’s no cut-off point to becoming who we are. Life is messy and sometimes illogical and, above all, fiercely personal. I can’t spend any longer worried about when everything will happen – finding a partner, buying my own house, making my first million. The timeline is none of my business. Enjoying the ride is. And it’s longer than we think.
Above: Jamie Lee Curtis proving goals have no age limit; model Leomie Anderson