In the past few years society has gone from YOLO - You Only Live Once, to FOMO - Fear of Missing Out. This term expresses the idea of the need or desire to do everything, so as to not miss out on anything. Perhaps this is due to the mounting pressures to live up to others’ curated lives on social media, or perhaps it is due to wanting to experience everything in life before the next new thing comes out.
Not only do we as adults experience FOMO, but our kids do too! The question is, who sets up this expectation for children? We are subconsciously guilty of wanting our children to either follow in our footsteps, or of wanting them to do everything we didn’t have the opportunity of accomplishing ourselves. Have we ever stopped to think of how this may impact our own kids, or how our own life choices may impact them? A newly published book, Seraphina Does Everything, shows us exactly how FOMO may impact children.
The main character in the book, Seraphina, is around middle school age, and she does it all - plays soccer, karate, dances ballet, is in a youth group, and is even learning how to speak French! She describes the concept of FOMO as she says, “If I don’t open every door to see what lies within, I’ll miss an opportunity that might not come again. I stay busy day and night, through winter, fall and spring. I crush my fear of missing out by doing EVERYTHING.”
Seraphina says she does everything, but despite that, she knows she isn’t doing “everything” well, and she feels very sad. While she is involved in a lot, she doesn’t go to birthday parties, doesn’t play basketball for fun, doesn’t play with her dog, and doesn’t eat lunch with her friends. She states, “This week I realized that no one asks me to come play. I think they all gave up because I’m busy every day.”
In the story Seraphina’s dad helped her see she has years “to try, to do, and to be,” and that she should focus on the things she loves to do. Once Seraphina engaged in the activities she truly loved, she was able to focus on doing fewer things she loved, and doing them well.
In our day in age, society has placed many pressures on us all, especially on our kids. It seems as though from when kids start kindergarten we are already thinking about them going to college. In preparation for college we over-schedule our kids in hopes of making them well-rounded individuals. It is important for us to remember kids still need the opportunity to play, to develop social skills, to experience mindfulness as they fully engage in what they are doing, and to simply have fun!
As adults we can certainly learn from Seraphina as well! Between working full-time, creating our kids’ schedules and taking them from activity to activity, and trying to make Pinterest-worthy activities and parties, when do we ever “just be” with our kids? Let’s remember to set aside the frivolous things, to fully engage and be present in each moment, and remember what we know is truly important in life - our kids!
Always learning. Always growing. Always aiming to inspire!
Counselor De Jesus
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Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is a former teacher, school counselor and licensed associate counselor serving children and families in the northern New Jersey area.
To learn more visit www.freetobemindful.com.