FOMO (or “Fear of Missing Out”) is a feeling most twenty-somethings are all too familiar with.
And how could we not be? From Snapchat to Twitter to Facebook and more, it seems like more platforms for showing you what other people are doing keep popping up every day.
When you’re home alone or doing something decidedly un-fun, it’s easy to feel like the pictures your friends are posting without you are taunting you.
It doesn’t end there, though – FOMO can extend to people you don’t even know. How many times have you scrolled through some rando’s Instagram feeling a little less secure about your life, and coveting what they have? That’s FOMO.
The fear you’re missing out on something in life, whether it’s things or places or events. It’s a restless, anxious feeling that convinces us we need more, we need to do more, and we need to be more places.
It tends to hit especially hard around the holidays – there’s so many parties to go to, so many cutesy holiday activities to do, so many things we feel like we need to cram into a couple weeks. It’s overwhelming, and can leave you burned out and stressed.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to let your FOMO make decisions for you.
The truth about missing out is this – you’re so concerned about not being at that party, at that bar, that you’re not concerned about the worst thing you could miss out on: your own wellbeing.
When you’re constantly filling your calendar, you’re likely not taking the time you need to take care of yourself.
Need some perspective?
Make a list of your priorities and goals, both short term and long term.
Look at that list.
Is “go to the same bar we go to every weekend” or “getting Instagram likes on a dumb thing I didn’t want to do anyway” on that list?
Take a look at the things that are on the list, and see what you’re currently doing and what you can do more of to reach those goals.
Spend quality time with your family, learn skills that will help you in your career, or spend time on a hobby.
When you feel tempted to focus on an event that you feel like you “should” attend or you’ll be “missing out,” revisit that list, and see if that particular thing is worth investing your time in. If it is – great! Be there and be present for it. You’ll appreciate it more knowing that you chose to attend, rather than feeling like you had to be there.
Another truth? Social media is a liar.
We live in a time where instant gratification is key, and where approval and validation are measured in likes, shares, and retweets. Social media is killer for FOMO because no matter how many times you went out last week, how amazing that vacation you took was, or how much fun you’re having with your friends, someone else did it more than you, someone else’s vacation was better, and someone else got a better candid and slapped a filter on it.
Someone will outdo you, every single time, and if you let yourself fall into the trap of “I’m not doing enough” you will not win.
We hear all the time, “If it didn’t go on Facebook, did it really happen?” and that’s an easy thing to start to believe, but here’s the answer – YES.
Social media shows us only the carefully curated and heavily filtered parts of the best parts of people’s lives. When you’re seeing a picture someone posted, you’re not seeing the whole picture. You’re not seeing what they’re dealing with in life, you’re not seeing the argument that broke out after that picture, you’re not seeing the crushing hangover the next day.
We post the good things, and we leave the bad. Is that how social media should be? Maybe, maybe not, but that’s not what this is about. This is about acknowledging the fact that what you’re seeing on social media isn’t an accurate depiction of life. Don’t let your joy be quantified in likes.
Look – you’re going to miss out on things. Part of embracing “missing out” is knowing that things are going to go on while you’re not there, and accepting that. You can’t be everywhere, or do everything at once. It’s a matter of balance – finding the balance that helps you live your most fulfilling life.
Learn you don’t need to be constantly doing or consuming.
Learn to be comfortable without constant stimulation.
Learn to be present and appreciative of your life right now, even if it’s not picture perfect.
If you focus on what you’re missing out on, you’re not present to realize what you already have. That’s the real scary thing to miss.
Discussion: Are you afraid of missing out or have you found a balance between missing out and being present?