Boy has a comfortable situation. Nice place to live. Decent amount of close friends. Potential love. Has the chance to work and/or attend grad school in the same place. Boy is comfortable.
Then everything changes.
This is a story as old as time. Leif Erikson decided to ditch his Viking life in Europe to sail across the open sea in what I understand was just a damn big canoe. Christopher Columbus, John Smith, Ferdinand Magellan all left presumably comfortable lives to explore. For the ladies, Sakajawea left the comfort of her tribe to follow/lead two dudes named Lewis & Clark. Thus, paving the way for Americans to leave their lives in the east and head west in pursuit of some shiny rock. Yes, the college grad does not have to sail the open treacherous sea (anxiety) or cross the unknown America with some guy named Charbonnet. But the average twenty-something does drink like Leif and his Viking bros pillaging the next village over and ladies do have to put up with idiot guys getting lost so we’ll roll with it. The point is, post grad life is all about taking the risk to uproot your current situation and try something completely different.
In one of my entirely unnecessary psychology classes, I learned that there were three stages in the average person’s working career. The last stage from 65 and beyond is retirement. Middle age, typically 40 to retirement, is for settling in. The first stage from age 20-40 is a time of exploring. During that time people are continuously making decisions that will set them up for the rest of their lives.
Example: At the end of the summer, I’m starting school in Milwaukee to pursue a law degree and crush an infinite amount of Miller Lites (read: bio). Milwaukee is something around 20 hours away from where I attended undergrad and even further away from my hometown where my family lives. Does everyone measure distance in hours or just us Midwesterners? Anyways. The opportunity to visit my family and the majority of my friends will be few and far between. What makes this even worse is that during my senior year of undergrad I met a girl. I know what you’re thinking – “So what? You can meet girls any day of the week”. That may be true, but Cupid has never been on my side. As a result, I’ve never been in a serious relationship or even one that has a mutual interest between the two parties. Sure, I’ve had hookups, but that was almost always purely physical attraction. And sure I’ve had girlfriends, but I never felt they were “the one” or even remotely close. This girl had that. We had a mutual attraction for each other and a feeling that this could eventually be as serious as a relationship could get. Something I’ve never had and everything that most of us want. Then came time to pick a law school. Instead of choosing the school I attended undergrad and continuing this relationship, I took a risk. I chose an opportunity to expand my options in my future career. I chose this over family, friends, and a rare opportunity for potential love. I chose a risk over comfort.
Why do people do this?
Why do people uproot their comfortable lives and opt for basically a brand new life? A new city where they know absolutely no one. Breaking up with a steady girl to engage in the chase. The decisions are endless and terrifying.
People do this because of the very real fear of missing out, or FOMO as it is referred to by the street youths. Ask any of your parents or grandparents their biggest regret in life. More often than not it will be something they didn’t do rather than something that they did do. People fear waking up one day with wrinkles and grey hair (shivers) regretting that they missed out on opportunities. Settling down with your high school sweetheart or not taking that job across the country can cause this FOMO. Look, I’m not telling you “don’t take that job” and I’m not saying “break up with her” (Unless you’re Todd). All I’m saying is people take these risks because they fear missing out. If you’re happy living a comfortable life, by all means do it. But if you think you might wake up one day and regret not trying something, do it. Move to that city. Break up with them. Take that job.
Because waking up when you’re old and gray with regret is the ultimate form of Sunday Scaries..