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The other pandemic. FOMO + social media.

Last week I spent some time amongst the saguaros. We drove the bus down south for some winter escape and found just that! I’ve been anxious about everything recently and a location change can help snap out of my normal tendencies and patterns.

Sometimes the stress is fueled by social media, adding to the notion that everyone is doing things better. Sometimes that shows up as FOMO and sometimes it shows up as shame, anxiety, and doubt. One of the days we serendipitously ended up riding with a group of women, most of them pros trying to train for their big seasons ahead. I chatted with a particularly accomplished athlete, a woman who seems to always have it dialed, who wins more than most and she mentioned how she has been feeling so behind in her preparation, nervous about the approaching races. And then, the day after our ride a friend posted about how SHE was having FOMO seeing everyone riding together in Arizona and she is stuck in shitty weather.

It was then that I realized that my actions, or the appearance of my actions rather, are probably the same source of stress for others that I experience looking at this stupid app and judging myself by.

We are all in the hamster wheel together. No one is doing anything how you’re supposed to do it, they’re just trying to survive their own shit and make it work.

More often than not, social media paints an unrealistic picture of how a life is lived. We all know this. But do we remember?

The thing that is tough to convey is the thing that is real. The reality of each of our lives, for the famous, the Olympians, the published, the professors, the role models and heros...all of them and all of us are pretty much the same. With our failures, success and insecurities. There are just those few moments for us that eventually, hopefully align and we feel a brief moment of reprieve from the slogging. In my opinion, the thing that separates us and brings a few of us fame and glory is timing...something that's pretty much out of our hands.

Knowing that, does it do any good to show the struggle? To talk about all of the stupid things that wake me up at 3am. These aren't the big things, they're the little ones that pile up on top of each other. The anxiety mountain full of FOMO, stress, depression and doubt. But by not speaking about it does it imply that that mountain is a hill, or simply doesn't' exist at all? Do I talk about the unread emails, the texts and calls I'm behind on that creep into my thoughts and dreams. Do I talk about the tears shed in frustration trying to prepare for trips, races and training? Do I talk about how I have a bad case of impostor syndrome with literally everything I do, just waiting for the moment where someone finds out I have no idea what I'm doing?!

Then answer is yes. I want to shine some light into those shadowy corners. I can't share it all, but perhaps by putting those things down on "paper" (lol, who uses paper these days. I do. And it's a process getting it into this digital world) it will help me along the way.

And, yes I like to start sentences with and, I will share some moments from the past few weeks where I thought about the beginnings of this post. But remember, there were freezing fingers, fights with Dylan, family stress, car stress, money stress, performance stress, FOMO stress inbetween it all. Stringing it all together in a messy, shadowy, rainbow web.

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Thank you to Peso for bringing this to his audience's attention. I look forward to your demonstration of the redemptive power of airing one's "dirty" laundry. And (shame on me for starting a sentence with "and") as someone who has been able to eschew the temptations of a cell phones, social media, and fluency in texting shorthand I can tell you life is no different for us. It's just paced differently.

Maybe one of you should come up with a new shorthand for "No Shame in Appearing To Be Human". Just as there is never a time when expressing gratitude isn't a good idea, conveying humility isn't ever self-defeating.

Look forward to future posts.

Mike McElveen

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