FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out…a term that has recently become well known and often used. “I have the worst FOMO since I have to work and am missing the party!” or “Since I can’t go on the vacation I’m FOMO-ing hard!” (Yes, it may not always make grammatical sense but I digress.)
FOMO is often used to explain how one is feeling about missing out on a social event or gathering, vacation or even just a coffee break. It encompasses one’s annoyance about being absent from something they deem to be fun, and therefore missing the joy that could have been experienced. However, it also entails an anxiety about not being present for bonding events with other humans, and therefore FOMO has undertones of fear of social exclusion.
The problem with placing so much emphasis on what you may be ‘missing out on’ is that you begin to lose track of what you actually want to do.
When FOMO began to enter my vocabulary, I found myself feeling obligated to show up where I was invited, even if I didn’t want to go. I feared that if I chose not to or couldn’t go to events deemed important by my social circle, that I would be missing out on crucial bonding moments with those I called friends.
Also, when events that I actually wanted to attend but couldn’t make because of work or school obligations came up, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on whatever I was missing the event for.
I was unable to stay present in what I was doing because I was ‘fomo-ing’ about being somewhere else. I was unable to see the larger picture, and I became obsessed with what I was missing.
They say ‘anxiety is rooted in fear of the future’ and I believe this explains FOMO to a T. I took ‘fear-of-missing-out’ literally, which began to root fear into my daily existence. Not only could I no longer stay present with my tasks when I believed I was missing out on something planned, but even when nothing was planned I began to feel that I should be doing something else.
I was never satisfied with the here and now and I was SO out of touch with my intuition.
Now, I’m not saying that ‘FOMO’ as a term is completely to blame for this. My fear of missing out was magnified by the fact that I did not trust myself or value my intuition enough to follow it let alone listen to what it had to say. I was consumed with missing out on things that weren’t even part of my internal value system and obsessed with being socially excluded. However, these two points go hand in hand.
I have come to realize now that if I was able to practice and to rely on my sense of self-worth and self-trust, I would not be as concerned about missing social events. I would be fine listening to my soul when it tells me that I would rather stay in and watch Netflix then go to the bar, or on that blind date.
After all, what I was really missing out on was spending time alone, with myself.
If I can suggest anything from my struggles with this disease called FOMO, it would be to work on placing less emphasis on what you may be missing, and more on what you have now. To be present in your own desires and hopes, and to focus on your larger picture instead of getting caught up in the noise all going on around you. You can rely on the fact that real friends will still be loyal if you don’t attend one event, and trust that fate will align you with those you are supposed to meet when you are supposed to meet them.
So, don’t fear missing out, embrace looking in.