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…

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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

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