Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

Most states have a festival season. In Louisiana, we have festivals year-round. That means there’s 12 months out of the year you have something fun and cultural to do. That also means you have an almost weekly opportunity to miss out on something cool your friends are doing.

Between tailgating, parties and festivals there’s never a lack of something to do. Unless you have an amazing job and unlimited free time, you have to pick your fun. Sometimes, it can be hard to know where to spend your money and when to stay home.

I suffer from a debilitating case of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. This disorder, which is kind of a real thing, can cause you to make unreasonable decisions. It can cause you to go out when you really want to stay home or go to events you won’t necessarily enjoy. Though my FOMO is just recently self-diagnosed, I have had it as long as I can remember.

In high school, I used to divide most nights out between three different groups: my boyfriend and his college friends, my friends I grew up with, and my high school friends.  I was always running from one event to the next, only spending two hours max per party situation. My high school friends used to joke I was a vampire because they never saw me before midnight. They were always the last stop.

Over the years, I have tried to learn to pick one fun thing a night and stick with it; it doesn’t always work.

Just a couple of weeks ago for Halloween, I had one of those busy weekends where I should have picked my fun (and obligations) more strategically. I wanted to go out on Frenchmen in New Orleans, participate in the ALS Association walk in Baton Rouge and go to Voodoo Fest Sunday. Plus, I had to work two different jobs. And at the last minute the biggest show and career opportunity of my life came up on that Sunday.

I decided to do it all.

The problem with spreading yourself too thin means you spread the fun too thin as well. You show up late everywhere because you never want to leave. Then, you feel like you missed the fun when you finally get there. You’re never in the moment.

The FOMO struggle is real.

Inevitably, something goes wrong on weekends like those. That weekend in particular I almost overslept the charity walk and had two mildly upsetting panic attacks. Not too bad, honestly. At least it wasn’t a public fight with a loved one or a blackout; worse things have happened.

Living a segmented life can definitely lead to anxiety. Your brain is always going 1,000 miles a minute because you’re constantly making lists of things you need to do and which priority needs to take precedence.

Being anxious is a terrible way to show up to a music festival, especially if you have a fairly intense fear of large crowds. That’s just one of the things you should consider when deciding what event to spend your time and money on.

A good quiz to give yourself before going to an event: How big is the crowd? How bad will the lines be? How much money will I have to spend? What is the pee situation like?

I should have realized from the answer to those questions that Voodoo Fest was a bad idea. But, the fear of missing out is always paramount. So, only eight hours before I had to perform in front of 600 people, I half-assed it at Voodoo Fest because it was on my calendar for months.

I should have learned by now that I always get anxious with large music festival crowds. Give me an Earth Day or a Live After Five any day of the week; tightly packed crowds with intense music I can’t do.

The most important thing to remember when picking what to do on the weekends is to learn from your past experiences. One day, maybe I’ll remember that for big festivals.

Moving forward, I’m planning on investing an entire day to the Renaissance Festival in Hammond. As a socialite who works every weekend, let me assure you, the Renaissance Festival is worth losing a day of anything else that might be fun.

Costumes, reasonably priced mead and not a port-o-potty in sight. Who could regret that?


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