If you’re aware of “FOMO,” you’ll know that it stands for “fear of missing out.” It can be used to describe the feeling that many people have of wanting to experience everything that life has to offer.
Sometimes FOMO can lead to people compromising their physical health by depriving themselves of sleep or pushing themselves too hard to ensure they don’t miss out on opportunities.
Despite my diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a life-threatening lung disease that causes severe fatigue and breathlessness, I have experienced FOMO. However, another four-letter acronym is relevant to me: “YOLO,” or “you only live once.”
Many of my peers don’t live according to the YOLO mantra because they expect to have years ahead of them for milestones such as travel, marriage, children, and retirement. I likely won’t have a long life. While IPF’s prognosis has improved in recent years, my lifespan will be significantly shorter than that of my peers. So, I try to embrace the YOLO mentality as much as I can, and I don’t hold back when given the opportunity to try new things.
However, I struggle to balance life’s practicalities with a YOLO mentality. Over the years, I’ve witnessed members of my extended family struggle with finances due to circumstances beyond their control, such as divorce and illness. The importance of having a financial safety net was drilled into me growing up. While I know that having an emergency savings fund is important, I ask myself, “What am I saving for?”
Thinking of my fate with IPF might seem dark and uncomfortable, but I want to be practical. I want to save with the intention of eventually buying my first home, but I also don’t want to miss out on opportunities that I may never have again.
I have just returned from vacation in Hawaii where I chose to spend money on an experience from my bucket list: swimming with dolphins. I felt guilty about investing in this expensive activity, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.
While I recognize the importance of saving, I wonder about the point of having a nest egg if IPF will claim my future. My practical thinking battles with my adventurous side that knows I probably don’t have a long time in relatively good health to experience all of the things I want to.
After my diagnosis with IPF three years ago, one of my greatest fears was the financial burden of this disease. Between medications, hospital stays, rehabilitation fees, and time off work for appointments, I wasn’t sure how I’d manage. I am now physically unable to do some household tasks. While I rent my home, I have some maintenance costs to cover, too.
I am still young and don’t have years of a career behind me, and I’m not married with a dual income. I am still paying off debt from my undergraduate and master’s degrees. I’ve read that the cost of housing is moving far out of reach for those of us who are relatively new to the workforce.
When I dwell on these challenges, I become consumed by thoughts of saving and working harder to increase my income. However, when I lost a friend who didn’t get to experience life to the fullest, my YOLO mentality kicked in, encouraging me to live as loudly and fully as I can.
Do you experience YOLO? How do you find balance? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.