This blog is written by Aysha Musthafa.
FOMO in Barcelona - Barcelona through the eyes of a Sri Lankan - (Part 2)
As the seasons change with the current transition into winter, Barcelona remains vibrant with no signs of slowing down. However, I’m quite happy with the way early October has turned out (I anticipated layering) with the warm rays during the day and a slight chill at night, reminding us of the summer gone by. So, I’m back with a renewed outlook and a warm energy that Autumn brings to my perspective of Barcelona, through the eyes of a Sri Lankan – Part 2.
Sleep Hard, Party Hard
‘Siesta and fiesta.’
If two words can describe the Spanish culture, it would be Siesta and Fiesta. The concept of sleep-hard and party-hard is the way things exist around here. Over the last few months, I’ve learnt that the best time to have the city to yourself is before 10 am or between 2 pm and 4 pm because the hustle starts after 10 am and the city is truly napping during siesta time. If you are thinking about getting things done like shopping during siesta, not possible. Most establishments are closed and it’s worth calling them before you plan.
But on the other hand, as much as they relax, the Catalonians, expats and tourists alike truly take fiestas seriously. It’s almost second nature and is supported by an active calendar by the Ajuntament de Barcelona who knows how to keep things going. There are festivals on every corner – parties, concerts, opera, theatre, art exhibitions, elaborate fireworks and every other niche type of event you can think of – every day. Sometimes the number of events one must attend is overwhelming.
When I look back at my life in Colombo, I could say we are a regular city that carries on with a segregated business/party hours lifestyle while people in Colombo party till at least 5 am – 6 am. Colombo has an active nightlife yet we have a limited agenda of activities so by the time I was grey, I rarely worried of an inactive social life. I was the poster child of every ‘millennial’ meme until I got here.
I had to put in extra effort on my social life, meet people way past my bedtime and sometimes shamelessly wake up after 8 am. As much as it brings discourse to my life, the city gives me this sense of energy almost like a shot of ‘Red Bull’ (This is not a promotional ad, and I don’t do energy drinks).
FOMO in Barcelona
‘This is when I realised I was feeling a deep case of FOMO in Barcelona (fear of missing out)’.
A part of me is quite happy that I did not move to Barcelona during my youthful days because I would’ve exhibited a serious case of <insert preferred disorder>. Now, with more maturity, I have control over the kind of events that I can commit to, however I still find myself in a bowl of regret & exhaustion after a continuous week of night outs. To be clear, it’s not just partying, but the city offers so much more to do and experience as it’s a hub for cultural, art, literature, architecture, etc., activities and for a person who loves expression, I simply cannot miss the chance of experiencing it.
This is when I realised I was feeling a deep case of FOMO in Barcelona (fear of missing out) which I’ve never experienced thus far in life. This came as a surprise because I’m a retired extrovert who’s sworn off people until Barcelona changed me. Now, I’m a proud Barnavert (an extroverted personality type that shows up only when in Barcelona). In Colombo, FOMO didn’t exist for me and I was delighted when I RSVP a ‘No’ but now I understand what the word FOMO actually means. It’s a distracting & nagging feeling that makes you think you owe someone, something or even yourself the need to be at every event.
So, for the young souls feeling FOMO in Barcelona, these words from the song ‘Angel’ by Shaggy help put things into perspective – “Life is one big party when you’re still young, But who’s gonna have your back when it’s all done, It’s all good when you’re little, you have pure fun, Can’t be a fool, son, what about the long run?”.
This experience has humbled me and to tackle my FOMO in Barcelona, I use the ‘Fuck Yes or No’ policy by Mark Manson, and strict scheduling with ample recovery time. It truly helps.
*The Law of Fuck Yes or No states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.
The Law of Fuck Yes or No also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must also respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.
What is time, anyway?
‘Here, people agree to a time but neither has arrived at that time, but you casually meet up a couple minutes later (it can be as long as 30 minutes or more).’
One thing that Sri Lanka and Spain have in common is that no one is on time because honestly, “What is time?” I feel all of us believe subconsciously that time is an illusion but in this 3D world, we try half-heartedly to be on time.
So, I used to be a person who didn’t care much for tardiness until an ex and I played the waiting game, where it ended gravely (lost 4 years due to a bad match in the horoscope). Ever since then, being on time, not wasting other’s time and my time has been a priority and yes, I do judge people who cannot live up to that, until Barcelona. Here, people agree to a time but neither has arrived at that time, but you casually meet up a couple minutes later (it can be as long as 30 minutes or more) and order your tapas and drinks like being on time doesn’t matter.
I never seen anyone apologise profusely for it. It’s almost like an understanding. I don’t know if it’s the time that takes to commute or the walk to/from the metro, or the clock is broken or people just don’t care, but time seems to be eternal in the Spanish realm.
Lack of punctuality was hard for me back home and still is. It’s taken a while to get used to not being on time, again but once I started letting go of the judgement, I was slowly able to accept it. I do not know if this trait is a good thing or a bad thing, but in all honestly, I would still prefer to be on time (because once bitten, twice shy). However, as far as stereotypes go, there are plenty of other cultures who are not on time as well, so for once, Sri Lankans don’t have to be the only ones carrying the weight of ‘being late’.
Barcelona through the eyes of a Sri Lankan - fomo in barcelona: Until next time
‘Moving is always a good thing.’
The more I stay here, the more I find my awareness expanding – with the new things I know, the new faces I meet and the new experiences I dare to have. So, I can attest that moving is always a good thing because until you do it yourself, it will always be a heard or a seen thing. But when you do it, you know and that’s what makes any experience unique to you.
So, I do hope this article gives you a glimpse of life in Barcelona, however, know that no amount of stereotyping can ever normalise what you go through as an expat who’s home away from home. Until next time, enjoy Barna!