We can finally breathe easy with the global crises being alleviated to a major extent and one of the most vital lessons it has imparted is showing us that we have the ability to live more slowly and more mindfully. Taking a few steps back and doing things in many ways helps to reboot our whole system, bringing to light clearly what matters most: our well-being and our loved ones. If there are any silver linings from the crises, it has taught us meaningful communication with our family and friends. We don’t need to go back to old ways and patterns and we ought to walk into the new normal and emerge into a new-found freedom, rather than endlessly comparing our lives on social media and being haunted by the so-called FOMO. We can benefit tremendously from accepting that it’s absolutely okay to walk away sometimes from things that don’t serve us and we can choose to not actively participate.
I personally have been exploring this for a couple years, way before we were struck by the pandemic. I’ve learned that it’s not only possible to relinquish the need to be everywhere and do everything but also has massive rewards to offer. This sent me on an internet binge frenzy to look for a term for it and it turns out it’s called a JOMO – aka the ‘Joy of Missing Out’. While I’d go to crazy lengths to keep my journal as full and filled as possible and be actively chasing the need to constantly achieve, I’ve now stopped trying that hard and it feels like a huge rock off my chest. I’m quite eased into the whole concept of slow living. My days are not governed by this whole man-made, controlling concept called time anymore and it feels really good. It doesn’t mean I am up to no good. I’m still doing my regular tasks but I feel less stressed about them. There are many activities that have been replaced by more mindful ones of course, like binge watching Netflix has been replaced by reading more books, unremitting scrolling on IG has been replaced by gardening, pointless conversations on the phone have been swapped for meaningful and only-A list conversations.
The switch hasn’t been that easy and it has revealed a lot of painful and unpleasant truths about myself. Previously my need to mingle needed constant feeding and FOMO was my normal, almost like a natural instinct – the whole club hopping around the city, from one hot party to the other, was my routine, even on certain weekdays. I fed off the energy, the social buzz and the unavailing social interactions. Sitting at home was unsettling and uneasy for me back then. However, in 2018 a drastic change dawned. I lost my high paying job and I had to figure out a way to make ends meet, not to mention the heaps of debt owing to the extravagant life I led. I soon recognized that my priorities had to change. I had to prioritise my mental sanity over wasted nights at some downtown club. I anyway didn’t have much money left to spend lavishly at clubs ordering a smorgasbord of cocktails and food. Here’s another downturn of living a life governed by FOMOs – you ought to be making a six to seven figure salary with doing what you love to be frolicking the way I did.
I knew right then and there, a lot had to shift, my whole perspective toward life and what mattered, to begin with! I pledged to be more present. To start with, I stopped instigating social occasions and, even when invited out to one, I started declining every request. To my surprise, this act of freeing myself from these social pressures proved an instant revelation. Who knew how much I would cherish a calendar free of random unyielding things to do and genuinely take charge of my life? I let go of my rented house, after doing a garage sale of most of my belongings and paid off most of my credit card bills (I don’t have a credit card anymore!). I moved back to living with my parents and besides saving on house rent, advantages of home-living crystallised further as I began to spend more time at home. Also, our home is many hours away from the hustle bustle of city life – the simple life.
I discovered how great it is to live with your family and loved ones. I can now spend quality time with my nephew and help him with his homework, and sometimes he helps me clean my room or help me sort out my wardrobe. I do many house chores and when I’m tired I go out for a run or a walk for miles exploring the scenic surroundings of our home – it’s infinitely preferable to spending an evening in a train commuting from work to home. And during the pandemic we started living with my grandparents in a village, locked away in the remotest corner of a coastal village. Conversations with my grandparents while sipping evening tea taught me more about slowing down and cherishing life, successes and failures et al. For me the pandemic was like a rejuvenating experience, like a major reset, a second chance life had given me and I made the most of it. I did lose a lot of connections and friends in the bargain but I have also learned that the ones who really matter stick by you. The true friends supported my decisions and the change that was coming and they were happy for me. They said I sounded and looked genuinely happy for myself and they noticed the positive change in me, in the conversations I had with them. It also gave me time and space to help my friends with their struggles.
Now, I’ve returned to city life with a renewed purpose! I don’t have a boring old corporate job, I shop less, I go out to socialise only if it adds real value to my life, I meditate, I do yoga, I cook my own meals, clean my own house, sometimes I don’t do a thing, yes that’s right, nothing at all – there still are wobbles, perhaps inevitably so. I’ve missed out on big Indian weddings of many of my old friends and countless events. But the FOMO doesn’t rile me these days. Maybe it’s all part of growing older, and hopefully wiser, but accepting my limitations has never felt this liberating. Mindfully and consciously choosing to take a step back can be super transformative and restorative on all kinds of levels, especially on a soul level and I don’t think I would ever take my life for granted again.