Dealing with your FOMO (the fear of missing out)

Hi Guys! How are you doing? What’s new?

I guess the most obvious thing from me is that my hiatus is over!

I’m back from taking a break from writing and ready to pick up where I left off. I’ve got a few life lessons to share with y’all and it’s been really interesting to say the least.

And while figuring out what I wanted to first write about, I stumbled upon an issue I’ve struggled with all my life. Something that’s been affecting me in a way that I didn’t really understand – until now. And that’s the fear of missing out (FOMO).

But what exactly is FOMO?

Of course I had to hit you with a definition:

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And I bet you’re wondering, is that even a thing? Is that even something worth writing about?

Well, you bet your ass it is, because it’s something I’ve been going through since I was young. I’ve never really been a homebody and have always revelled in the chance to go out and have fun.

But why now, what’s so important about it?

Well, the thing is FOMO, isn’t just a fear of missing out, it’s also the lack of discipline that comes with it, the dislike of being alone and the constant (and sometimes destructive) desire to have more.

And so many of us are experiencing this, not realising that FOMO can be a manifestation of something much deeper. Devoreaux Walton a modern etiquette expert and founder of The Modern Lady, wrote in Bustle that, “FOMO is the modern-day sense of peer pressure that can encourage people to do things they don’t truly want to do because fitting in and following the crowd is more desirable.”

And I think that describes what I go through to a tee. I hate to be the one that’s left out and not enjoying life. I hate looking at other people’s snaps and Instagram posts and feeling like damn, I should’ve been there. I need to be there.

I often find myself fighting this incessant need to enjoy and experience what everyone else is doing. And if by somehow I’m not, this makes me feel like I’m radically different from my peers.

And that’s the issue with FOMO – it has the ‘grass is always greener’ effect making it seem like there must be a better option. Ken Sereno, a professor of communication at University of Southern California Annenburg says this can explain why a person watching a show on TV that they like will scan all of the other 300 cable channels to see if there’s something on that’s even better.

But I think social media also plays a big part in my FOMO and for many others. We can always see what everyone is getting up to, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. Clearly we are more “networked and exposed” through social media to our peers’ activity than previous generations.

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But that’s just the thing. You are neither here nor there. Instead you find yourself constantly preoccupied with an all-consuming feeling that everyone is doing better or having a good time without you.

In a study, FOMO has been found to contribute to a person’s dissatisfaction with their own social lives, and the fact they feel like they have less. It triggers negative feelings like boredom and loneliness, which has an impact on someone’s psychological well-being.

And I remember my FOMO being triggered especially when I’m unhappy.  To combat this I try to see what everyone else is up to and then I’m stuck in a negative loop of constantly checking and re-checking throughout the day. I then become even more sad or anxious as I compare my life to everyone else.

So, how do we break out of this loop?

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Well, there’s no magic answer, sorry folks.

Combatting FOMO will take some time as it requires you to actually delve deep into why you feel that way in the first place.

But one way to combat FOMO is to go for the experience, not the symbol. According to Psychology Today doing this means you are “focusing on the experience—a feeling of accomplishment, adventure, connection, fun, self-respect, freedom—that underlies the object or symbol—wealth, marriage, a sports car, a luxurious home—helps us distinguish what is truly fulfilling from that which can only provide a temporary feeling of pleasure.”

So instead of focusing on temporarily getting rid of your FOMO, you focus on only doing the things that actually betters you as a person. Like, going to a class that improves your skills, or helping you meet more people to build your business. Enabling us to experience the deeper fulfilment that comes from nourishing our soul.

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Or simply be willing to miss out. You can’t always be everywhere with everyone at the same place or same time. There are some things, events or people that aren’t meant to be in your life right now and that’s okay. No matter how fun it seems, you may need to accept the essential futility of trying to fulfil every desire we have is much wiser than indulging all of our impulses for gratification.

And finally try to be in the now. The best moments of our lives are often right here and now. It could also be in the simple pleasures and small achievements (as I always bang on about, that could make all the difference.)

Now, I’m not saying it will be easy, especially with the festive period coming up. It’s most likely now, more than ever, your FOMO will be going through the roof. Everyone will be out and about doing the most and living their best lives. And of course you should be doing the same too.

But that doesn’t mean you have to always be there.

Perhaps what you need instead is time to re-group and re-assess what’s right for you in this period.

Maybe it isn’t going out, maybe it’s creating a vision board, making some food for the week, or clearing out your room after promising to do it for so long.

Or, sleep.

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The point is, there so much other self-development that you can achieve by simply missing out. Mainly because you are truly alone with yourself and have to re-engage with what really matters to you. Doing this has helped make such a difference to my overall wellbeing, which is paramount to anything else in my life.

So having FOMO isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can sometimes be an indicator that your priorities may be in the wrong place and you need to take a step back.

After all you can’t really miss what you don’t need.

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