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Goeun Park: Getting over the fear of missing out

“Are you going to WE Fest this year?” Despite my public indifference to country music and distaste for crowds, I’ve been asked this question more than I could count.

“Oh. Well, no. I wasn’t planning on it.”

I say this and I am immediately doubtful. Should I go? Everyone else is, why not me? If the stars are ever aligned so I was fated to go to WE Fest, it’s right now. The arguments for going are good. I have a car and a bank account of my own. Carrie Underwood is one of three country artists

in the world I actually like. This summer — this week — will possibly be the most convenient opportunity in my entire life.

So I consider it. And again, I decide no.

Lately, I’ve been obsessively second-guessing myself. I am plagued with the completely irrational fear that many people my generation face: the fear of missing out.

In my seven years of residence in Detroit Lakes, I have never felt the slightest inkling to attend WE Fest. Until now.

It’s not even a desire to go, exactly. It’s a stubborn urge to do something for the sake of doing it. It’s a childish proclamation to absolutely no one that I could go if I wanted to. It’s a defense mechanism to make sure that I won’t regret not doing this or that because I was too chicken.

In the end, those are not good enough reasons. Growing up in a fairly strict household, I might have missed out on a few key high school moments. I never went to a high school dance. I never went to prom. I never went to sleepovers and if I did, it was earned through incessant pleading and promising.

(Before anyone assumes that my parents were the devil reincarnated, I’d like to politely point out they’re wrong. They buy me ice cream like, all the time. Love you, Mom and Dad!)

After graduating, I’ve piled on a lot of regrets. Some were valid — I wished I were more willing to talk to my freshmen as a Link Leader. I wished I had told my friends how much I treasured them more often.

But most of the regrets, I made up. I threw a pity party for myself because I thought I missed out on being a high schooler. I thought I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was supposed to and I wanted my money back.

Quickly, I snapped out of that bitter delusion. Enjoy high school? Oh, please.

Looking back, I would probably have died from stress if I tried to go to prom knowing that AP tests were in the same week. Looking back, I would probably have been mildly horrified to watch the people I knew since I was 12 grind on the dance floor.

I got what I needed from DLHS and then some: a great education and friends who somehow looked past my ditziness. I made compromises, not sacrifices. I don’t want anyone’s pity for choosing to pour over textbooks and notes instead of “being a high schooler” because now, I am blessed to attend an amazing college in beautiful Southern California, all in my family’s means.

Looking back, I did high school just like I was supposed to.

Amy Tan, one of the greatest Asian-American novelists to ever novelize, once wrote, “Why do you think you are missing something you never had?”

Lately, that quote stays with me. The fear of missing out, especially these days when everyone shares every momentous occasion on social media, might be simple human nature but I don’t want to be dictated by comparisons and status quos. I’ll do what makes me happy, not what I think makes other people happy.

To those attending WE Fest — have fun (and be safe)! Bask in Carrie Underwood’s glorious voice. I too will be celebrating summer and music, listening to The Temper Trap and Vampire Weekend in my backyard.

Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School this spring and is planning to attend college in California this fall.