For my birthday, my boyfriend bought me six sheep. I have named them after the top selling female novelists of all time: Jane, Virginia, Charlotte, Mary, Agatha, and Harper.
They are greedy and single minded. Up close, their breath is terrible. But they let me stroke their wooly heads and they look into my eyes with a trust that fills me with joy knowing that they will live a happy long life here.
I was content with them, baking bread, working on Zoom, and adjusting to a slower pace during lockdown until restrictions lifted, but soon I started to spot new posts on social media. Friends were eating mouth-watering spreads of food at street restaurants and declaring their joy at “getting back to normal.”
OMG, look! They are now on a beach, tanned and happy. I look out of the window and it’s grey and drizzling. A sad person with a soggy dog is walking nearby.
For good measure, I check out a networking group, seeking support.
No such luck, as several ladies have posted how they have nailed their online courses or created new lines of lucrative business during lockdown.
“Why aren’t you on a beach now, sand between your toes? What have you done with the last few months? Where is your killer online course? New income stream?” chimes my monkey-brain voice. I sigh. I’m not sure even a cup of tea and a piece of dark chocolate is going to get me through this morning.
This is the fear of missing out (or FOMO).
It shows up when faced with the Edited Me of social media that showcases others allegedly having the best time ever or getting through tough times with ease and succeeding against all odds.
It causes mild, persistent anxiety, and it can negatively impact the quality of your daily experience and social relationships. Most of all, your relationship with yourself can be damaged as we kick into becoming our own Internal Corrections Officer, creating a harsh internal dialogue of self-criticism.
We are all programmed to think that by missing out, we are flawed. It goes way back to our old cavemen thinking and need for connection, as the tribe only survived together. We are hardwired to fear separation, so we now fear missing out and fail to embrace the joy of being happy in our own company
So, here is an antidote that I want to share with you. It spells JOMO:
Just say no! It gives you choices and boundaries and stops you from burnout.
Own the moment. If you are having a bad day, then be easy on yourself and remind yourself that this too shall pass.
Make what is right for you a priority.
Only check social media/emails/voicemails/the news/etc. when you have to. Instead, do what you love.
Then you will become who you love. The best version of you filled with the joy of finding more by missing out.
Ah. The bliss. As one of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, says: “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” In other words. Take joy in you. Missing out or joining in.