FOMO and hypothetical side projects


A further entry in the annals of Joanna Is Not As Cool As You Think: A few months I had to Google FOMO because all the cool kids, etc. I’ll let you in on what I learned: FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out.

I have FOMO right now. Not the fear of missing out on any certain experience or event, but a fear of missing out on producing.

Every day, I go online and see people who write about every book they read (and in a much more digestible format than my long, never quite figured out thoughts), have a specific job for their Instagram account*, those who recap each day or weekend with technicolor photos, offer a new brilliant recipe every other day, have side projects with their friends, or get their thoughts together/organized/online before I remember what day it is. I see people who have a wealth of material they can point to when someone asks, “What have you been up to lately?”

Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that nothing has really happened until I’ve shared it here, on Twitter, or on Instagram. How will you all KNOW that I had a large revelation that will (please, God, please) change and shape my life for the rest of my life if I don’t explain it all here? (I did, and I haven’t figured out how to say it here yet.) How will you KNOW I’m taking advantage of living here by going to cool places if I don’t point it out?

It reminds me of the time I read a blogger’s About Me page and felt bad for 15 seconds because she seemed so cool and so into the same things I am. Then I realized, she’s into the same things I am, she just wrote it down on stone of the Internet!

In this online-centric life, I have to remind myself the doing is the doing. The telling is not the doing. The telling is a nice thing we do when we think someone else might benefit from the telling, or when the telling makes us happy or makes us laugh. We do not do so we can tell. Or at least, I shouldn’t.

To close, a list of potential side projects for me if I ever have the spare time and energy to do them:
// A podcast wherein my friend Keri and I watch movies and talk through them because it entertains us endlessly and annoys NOBODY.
// A retail store of all the things I really really like: books, fine chocolate bars with good-for-you ingredients, wine, llama things. I even have a name for it but I’m not sharing because this is the Internet.
// A series of illustrated children’s books recounting the adventures of my niece Luci and her BFF Leila. Luci and Leila! It practically writes itself! But it does not illustrate itself, so I’m stuck.
// Mystery Project X with my friend Kristin. Don’t ask. We don’t know.

Now I’m dying to know: If you had a side project, what would it be?

*A very savvy friend recently told me he decided one night to start an Instagram account of the wine he drinks specifically so he can A) convince wineries to have him photograph their product lines (he’s a photographer, so this isn’t a pipe dream) and B) because he wants wineries to send him free wine. It’s actually brilliant and a thought I would never have.




  1. Lan | morestomach

    i recently had it in my head that i love BENTO LUNCHES. i spent a day looking for AUTHENTIC bento boxes from JAPAN to purchase. then i looked all over pinterest to see how people were packing them. and i realized that my glass and ceramic corning ware are just as fine vessels to hold food. i’m still into bentos, and i have, so far, resisted taking pictures of my lunches. it crossed my mind that THE PEOPLE OF THE INTERNET are not aware of my new passion and i should definitely document it. but i haven’t. because i broke it down to this: i generally don’t like my food to touch but i like compact packed lunches and rearranging my food in such a manner is fun, but likely not so interesting for anyone else. and so i do it anyway and it gives me such satisfaction. that is enough for me.

  2. joannalinberg

    Lan–Yes! That’s exactly what I’m talking about! Although I would also totally enjoy pictures of your bento lunches.

  3. shanna mallon

    I am ever torn between the consummation of joy that comes in the telling and the special kind of joy that comes in keeping things close. I tend to want to overshare everything because I feel safer and freer that way; Tim tends to want to undershare because he feels safer and freer that way; we both recognize that there is a time and place for both… yet we’re in a world that doesn’t clarify for anyone which things go where. (It’s worse for me right now in this particular season, when I want so much to tell everyone everything pregnancy related yet also want so much to not tell everyone everything pregnancy related. Sometimes I want to be private because of wisdom. Sometimes, because of fear. How to discern! My heart is so confusing!) The ultimate comfort I come back to over and over is that He knows me. Inside and out. No matter what I share and when and with whom, it never surprises Him. I start there at least and keep muddling around into the rest of it.

    ps – you are wildly talented how do you not know this?
    pps – miss you.

  4. joannalinberg

    Shanna, oooo, I like that bit about the joy of telling and the joy of not. I think I tend to invalidate the joy of telling (like, if I’m enjoying something, it must be wrong–I’m way to Puritan in my thinking I think). But you’re right–sometimes there IS joy in telling and sharing and it’s not like I need to overthink that. I’m probably a little more like Tim until I can’t hold it in anymore than I word vomit at the closest person.

    Also, your ps’s and pps’s are the NICEST. Just like you.

  5. mom

    So, I love you. Telling or not telling. Is your great revelation about the Sabbath rest, perchance?

  6. joannalinberg

    I love you too, Mom! And no, I haven’t had a great revelation on Sabbath rest yet! I’m really bad at it! I think about it a lot though. My revelation is about getting to know Jesus and realizing it’s not on me to save the world.

  7. katie

    oh I feel that all the time, I have got to the point where there are a few projects I join in with regularly, but often feel like nothing is original, or thought up myself, and as for those people who think things up, like the instagram account, I wonder where those ideas come from! I think its important to use our blogs how best suits us, and that living life well doesn’t always equate to sharing it well, it more depends on what suits us!

  8. joannalinberg

    Katie, “living life well doesn’t always equate to sharing it well.” That is GENIUS!

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