Expat tales, Posts


FOMO.  A Fear of Missing Out.  Why is it that I’ve only just learnt this term?  For as long as I’ve been in tune with my inner self I have understood–quite categorically–that I suffer intensely from this condition.  (And yes, you’re right, there’s no such thing as FOMO phobia.  It’s a tautology, you don’t need phobia because you already have fear.  But I guess I just have fear squared and FOMO squared doesn’t have the same ring to it. So FOMOphobia it is).

This week I’m back to feeling like I’m in limbo.  We had a fun weekend with local friends and all of them asked when we were going home.  Or if we were staying.  We’ve been here one year now and in our minds our “LA Stint” was always going to be two-three years.

But niggling at the back of my mind is the fact that we leave LA and Mr H has to find a job back in Australia.  He resigned from his previous role to move–a permanent role not a contract.  So what then?  If he’s happy here do we stay?  Do we want the kids to be educated here or in Australia (hmmm…bit late to be asking that question?).  Do we want to actually live in LA “forever”?  That’s not something I can answer yet.

The intention of this Blog is to share the surreal things that we’ve been exposed to since landing in LA so you know that life for us has been a lot of fun.  But there is a downside to this whole adventure caper.  For me it’s feeling unsettled.

Things going on back home

The minute we arrived home from living in Shanghai for a couple of years I engaged an architect to come up with plans to renovate our Sydney home.  It took two years to agree on plans and get to work on construction drawings so we could start building.  We were supposed to start building this year but then LA happened.  We packed up the house, put the renos on hold and vowed to renovate while we’re here so we could move back into the house all done when we came home.

But who knows what’s going to happen to us?  It’s far too early to decide what to do “with our lives”.  But I want a plan.  We’re paying a lot of money in rent and I’d much rather that money be going towards a house that we own.  We’ve spent a fortune with an architect designing exactly the house we want but that’s the house we wanted this year.  If it takes us another two years to get home (and build) then we’ll have one son just about at Uni and one daughter with only a couple more years in the house.  What of that gorgeous family home with a beautiful outdoor space, granny flat and pool?

Hashtag first-world problems I know but my first-world problems nonetheless.

The unsettling feeling also extends to the kids being at school.  They’re trying and learning etc but at the back of their minds they’re finishing school somewhere other than America so they don’t have to worry about the things American students need to worry about like building a resume to get into College (and we don’t have to worry about paying for it!).

Amazing College campuses

But the other night as my son was at waterpolo training my daughter and I walked through the grounds of UCLA.  What a magnificent campus that is.  There must have been an event on like O Week in Australia because there were students everywhere–many of whom still looked like babies.

Some things made me cringe (I still can’t wrap my head around sororities–sorry I’m sure I’ll come around at some stage but you have to give me longer on that one) and other things made me think that Americans do “College” really well.  (Why don’t they call it Uni given most of the elite Colleges are in fact Universities???)

For example I like that it’s a right of passage–a transition phase–and life is all about “College”.  The kids aren’t grown up yet–they can’t legally drink to start with–but they’re given controlled freedom and are growing into adults.  (Does that make sense?)  The fact that sport and activities are actively encouraged to me is fantastic.  It means they peak at a later stage more in line with their growth and development.

I think at home we’re like, “oh, well done you’ve got your HSC now get to Uni, get a job and by the way you’re an adult; but you’re still studying so you’re not really grown up yet so make sure you do really well because you want to get a good job but by the way you’re still living under my roof and you live by my rules.”  (Or something like that).  It’s so … grey.

That’s where FOMO comes in.  I want it all.  I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  I don’t want to miss out; I don’t want the kids to miss out.

What FOMO means to me

I want to hang out with my friends at home in Sydney and be sitting in my girlfriend’s kitchen on a stool with my name on it as I txt Mr H to come meet me so we can do an impromptu family dinner together and then all walk home because we’ve had “one too many”.  I want my kids to be at school in Australia.  My son should be off on the camp-of-a-lifetime: four weeks studying and doing outdoor ed as they face one of the most challenging years of their young lives (being 14/15).  He’s missing cadets and playing waterpolo for the school and woodwork and Design & Tech.  My daughter is missing so many leadership opportunities including giving her school captain speech as she had to resign from her position because we moved.  Year 6 was a big transition year in her school and she’s missing that special time.  I want them to play Saturday sport.  I want to renovate and live in our beautiful house that we planned meticulously but haven’t hadn’t had the chance to build.

But then I want to be here in LA, getting to know my friends better, making new friends, travelling, experiencing life in an LA private school where the kids are meeting such a fascinating array of people (not least of which extremely famous people we’d never get the opportunity to meet back in Sydney).

I want I want I want

I want to go to the Emmys and Golden Globes and (who knows) maybe even the Oscars.  I want to keep watching movies in Mr H’s amazing sound stage with no one but us there.  I want the kids to experience College life on a campus continuing with sporting commitments even after school has finished continuing to grow rather than be active as a hobby.  I want to buy a house here and feel settled because it’s our own.

I want my Baker’s Delight, Violet Crumbles, coffee shops, local butcher and beach house.

I want my Netflix, million different ice-cream flavours that don’t cost the earth, WeHo restaurants and inexpensive wine.

I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in Sydney.  And I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in LA.  Damn you FOMOphobia.

FOMO is real and I suppose is very real for Expats who have left mates at home yet are leading an adventurous life in their host country.

I don’t feel like I really had FOMO while we lived in Shanghai, maybe it’s because we lived in an opulent apartment overlooking the Bund but maybe also it was because I didn’t have a deadline to build my house.  And maybe it’s because the kids were younger so the question mark of uni and where they may call home doesn’t come into question.  Or maybe it’s because I don’t remember, I’ve chosen to forget.

Either way going out on the road can have its challenges.  I guess it’s just a matter of perspective.

xx It Started in LA xx

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1 Comment

  • Reply JLo, David Duchovny & Forrest Gump | It Started In LA October 14, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    […] dreamt of only 15 months ago.  But.  And there is a but.  I wrote a couple of weeks ago about FOMO.  As settled as I am here in LA, I’m unsettled.  I like our house but it’s only […]

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