Thursday, August 20, 2015

The so called 'fear of missing out'

When I tell people that I have been to Russia, I automatically become 'more interesting'. In their heads there seems to be an association between 'far' and 'important'. And, to me, a trip to Russia only means that I went to Russia. In other words --and this is not for the humblebrag--, I don't know very clearly how travel makes me, in the eyes of others, a better person.

Admittedly, I haven't traveled to a lot of places outside of Colombia. I have been to three countries (Mexico, Rusia and where I now live, the US). And while traveling is a good experience, there are too many assumptions about people who travel. I, for one, am not and have never been wealthy. My advantage is that I am neck deep in academia and if one is savvy and knows where to look and how to do networking, travel opportunities may arise. I went to Russia because my undergraduate university sponsored it. And I went to Mexico because I was invited to do an internship. I embody the saying of 'being nerd pays', if the saying actually exists.

So it's all good and I'm grateful - but now these trips sort of became a default, hackneyed introduction letter that I use when I go to one of those upper-class 'laid-back' events with some of my colleagues here. Anytime they start getting to know people and the travel theme comes up, I have my three cards ready to play. Then if you have had international experience, you're sort of like 'in the club' of nice, special people. Because it is just so cool to share what your last night in Paris was like. A lot of narcissism and a lot of careerism can be seen around here --both borderline pathological.

The fear of missing out is also driven by a strong desire to be fabulous - in everything. No wonder this is, to agree with Brené Brown the most obese and medicated cohort in America. My core impression of America is that the vast majority of people don't know what they want - and even worse, they can't easily see through the distractions and figure out what they really want. They're both fiercely independent and not at the same time.