Gorgeous snow-capped mountains. Endless pictures of her sipping glasses of wine while munching on sausages. Every Facebook post was another tribute to her awesome European military life or the amazing travel opportunities.
My friend was having so much fun!
She was living my military dream life and I was experiencing some serious fear of missing out.
When You’ve Got A Serious Case Of Military Life FOMO
Here’s the thing: that life in Europe could have, should have, would have been mine. It’s all we talked about for 2 years. Seriously, the timing could not have been better, either.
It was billet time and there was a prime time spot opening up in Europe during that same period. The people in charge over there even wanted my Marine. He had met with the head honcho and everything. Our stars were aligning perfectly.
Until the military stepped in and decided that something else was needed instead. Because, of course, it would happen this way. After almost a decade of military life, I really should have known that it would go down like this.
Which is how I ended up doing a little light Facebook stalking and picturing the adventure I could have been having in Europe.
There Is More Than One Type Of FOMO
No matter where you are in life, you probably have a little bit of FOMO.
Someone you know always seems to have it just a little bit better than you.
Your friend PCSed to within an hour of her family. Hello built-in babysitter!
That couple is forever taking fun trips over weekend 96s. Last time they went to Thailand and this weekend they are popping up to Seoul on a whim.
It seems like your last 3 moves have put you smack in the middle of the flyover states. Endless expanses of flat land or deserts or forests, but not much in the way of beaches. And you’re several hours from the closest major airport. Meanwhile, your best friend has bopped between SoCal, Hawaii and Virginia Beach. Could her military life be any sweeter?
Deployment FOMO Is The Worst
Deployments have been a way of life for military families since, well, forever. For the last 15 or so years, deployments have been our whole lives.
One of the biggest FOMO issues for military families is who gets deployed when, where and how often. It might seem like your friend’s spouse is always home or has short TAD assignments. Your spouse is constantly deployed, training or in the field. In fact, it seems like maybe she should build a second home “in the field.”
On the other hand, some spouses might have gotten so used to the high-operational tempo that having her husband home for longer than 6 months feels strange. No more co-parenting with the other temporarily solo parents in the neighborhood. “Just eat cereal” dinners have been canceled. Say “sayonara” to spur of the moment weekends away with your friends.
How Can I Stop Comparing?
This has been the biggest struggle for me. Comparing lives is hard, especially in the social media age.
That friend in Europe? I got to see the fun weekends in Berlin and Lisbon, but not the constant struggle of her husband traveling or trying to figure out foods that won’t trigger her son’s dairy allergy.
Facebook and Instagram make it easy to share only the most amazing parts of our lives all of the time. You’ll never see my preschooler melting down online, but you sure might see her angelic face lit up with a giant smile!
For right now, look around and see what there is to do where you are.
Sure, you might be stuck on a tiny island in the Pacific, but there is also yummy food, kind people and amazing travel opportunities. It would be mighty expensive to explore all of Asia from D.C., wouldn’t it?
The couple that’s jet setting around the world could be looking at your sticky-fingered little ones, wishing they had their own munchkins.
For every case of FOMO that you have, someone else wants to be in your situation.
It’s Only Temporary
Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
It’s only for 3 years. It’s only for 3 years. It’s only for 3 years.
After that, you get another chance! Start peeking at what your next options might be. Talk to your spouse about how to stack the deck to get the place you really want.
I’m still a little grouchy about that particular roll of the PCS dice. That one spot in Europe? It was the only spot that worked for his MOS, rank and timing. There is nothing else over there. For the rest of his career, we have almost no shot of moving to Europe.
We didn’t get it. But that’s life, isn’t it?
There is always the path not taken.
There is always the game of “what if.”
If you can’t stop your military-related FOMO you will miss the fun and excitement of your current life or location.
Instead of that imagined European adventure, we got a whole year in San Diego. A year of amazing new friends, fun wine country adventures and spur of the moment beach or zoo trips. We got a year of awesome. If I had stayed in my FOMO mindset, I could have missed all of that.
While I’ll always have the lingering “what if” feeling about Europe, I would never trade in the experiences we’ve had. Those adventures are my life. I don’t want to miss that because I’m afraid of losing out on something “better.”