The Long and the Short:
The inspiration for this blog derives from a failed attempt to invite my friends to a shared Google calendar in which, as a product of my manic love for planning ahead, I had scheduled a snow ball fight.
Just the Long:
Usually after a bout of coveting clothing online, I like to remind myself of a personal mantra that “ideal me” holds to be true: experiences are more valuable than objects. Truthfully this mantra is sometimes muttered threateningly to my right index finger as it lingers longingly over the “Add to Cart” button. Overall, however, this statement embodies a belief that I feel, once put into practice, can substantially improve one’s life.
The catch: wouldn’t you know, most experiences (besides having one’s personal space and olfactory system violated on a crowded subway) don’t come cheap in New York City. As an involuntary penny-pincher, I find that a day doing only (relatively) free activities is a financial necessity, however, the spike in my energy level since moving to the East Coast makes it hard for me sit still. Whereas, in my native Ohio, a fulfilling weekend would include: multiple naps, a television series completed, and, if I was feeling ambitious, maybe a grocery store run and some homemade baked goods, in New York, I can almost always guarantee that a fulfilling weekend means I have not gone to the grocery store. Instead, my innately slow and lazy Midwestern self has morphed into a social-schedule toting, experience-seeking maniac.
Arguably the “trending” phrases YOLO and FOMO confirm my solidarity with a multitude of overbooked others. The first term YOLO, an acronym for “You Only Live Once,” describes everything wonderful and exciting and inspiring about living in a city with as much activity and energy as New York [think ecstatic youth spinning circles in Time Square, arms raised to the dream-laden skyscrapers]. YOLO can be used to a) justify one’s sleep depravity, plummeting bank account, or embarrassing encounters with strangers never to be seen again or b) guilt others into doing things with you.
The second term FOMO, an acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out,” describes the psychological neuroses behind YOLO—it is the fear of exclusion, boredom, and—one might even stretch to say—dying (or at the very least, growing older) that turns a person into an overextended freak—racing from one form of fun to the other. Someone suffering from FOMO might not stop to evaluate whether the activities they choose to fill their days with are productive, amenable to their budget, or contributing to their happiness. Instead, it becomes less what you are doing, than that you did it, and of course, that you can tell others that you did it (preferably through Instagram). FOMO is what one self-diagnoses oneself with when one finds oneself: a) actually exhausted b) literally broke and c) having participated in a plethora of unmemorable activities.
Frequently I find myself in a YOLO/FOMO limbo—wanting to fill my youthful days with memorable experiences, but also cramming my schedule with only mildly interesting activities as to avoid a boring night in. The scary part is that when I think that some time spent in Ohio, reconnecting with my slow-moving Midwestern roots, will be a much needed remedy, I find that there is no reversal. A few activity-free days in Ohio has become a challenge, a chore. I have to actively work at not being active, and when I return to the city, I find the first thing I want to do is throw myself into a spontaneous 2 hour-long trip to Coney Island, just to say I’ve had a hot dog at the original Nathans before turning around and heading back again.
The question is: how can one take advantage of the YOLO attitude without it slipping into the pathological FOMO? After all, it is a positive thing to take advantage of one’s youth and time; however, it is not a positive thing when one’s social calendar and shrinking bank account become a stress-inducer.
This is how I hope this blog can come in use—YOLO minus the FOMO—it is for anyone looking to take advantage of living in New York City without wasting their time on boring places or bland food or their money on inexcusably expensive admission fees. Meanwhile, I’ll get to scratch my “planning itch” while hopefully making things easier for others. And so, I’ll be posting day planners for New York’s neighborhoods filled with inexpensive, convenient (although be prepared to walk!), and worthwhile sights and activities to save your time and subway fare by seeing all that a neighborhood has to offer in one fell swoop!