“FOMO.” What is it? Why do we have it? Have you heard of it?
FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” is as simple as that. It is the feeling we get when we have stress or anxiety over thinking we are missing out on something that other people are doing. You can get feel FOMO in a situation as basic as when your friends see a movie without you, or as complex as if your colleagues are applying for internships or awards and you haven’t even started, let alone looked anything up. FOMO can be big or small, overwhelming or barely significant, but it is the time you dedicate to feeling this way that matters.
I admit, I get FOMO a lot. It is something I struggle with, but I know I am not alone, and that’s why I am writing this post. It stems from my want to be busy, the feeling that I must be doing something or have plans all the time to be doing something or if I am not doing something I am antisocial or lazy or wrong. But the thing is, I tend to get FOMO when I really shouldn’t be. The truth is, I am an introvert. Sure, I love spending time with people and being social in the sense that being around others beings me comfort and joy. But I truly like doing things for myself. I take on outside projects and activities so that, in the time I am not spending studying, I can do other things and feel busy and productive. I thrive in the moments when I can check box after box in my planner, and I love making to-do lists. This brings me joy.
Going along with this is my choice of friends. I find that because of the activities and organizations I participate in, I have come to know a lot of people. But with it comes to close friendship and a level of comfort, I only have 3-4 really close friends – one of whom is my boyfriend – who I make an effort to talk to on a regular basis and who I feel comfortable talking to anytime at any moment. Because of this, you can imagine how much pressure I can put on these friendships.
This is where my own FOMO comes into play. If my other friends are doing their own thing or going out or having fun without me, I get major FOMO. I feel insignificant, antisocial, lost, hurt, left out – I wonder why they didn’t reach out to me or why I am not doing things like that. When in reality, I like having my time. Not alone time, but productive time. I like staying home and being with my thoughts and my homework and my to-do lists. Going out makes me nervous and I would much rather spend an evening in bed with some tea and my latest English literature assignment than go out and see a movie or attend a weekly party. But I love being with friends during this time too. I love it when I can stay home AND study with people – half the time my boyfriend and I are just sitting in his room doing homework. But more importantly, I should stop feeling left out when I choose not to do these things. I choose not to hang out with people all the time. I invite them to study together, but when they instead want to do something fun, I should stop feeling left out of the equation and start feeling empowered to accomplish things on time so that I can have fun with them too.
The bottom line of this whole post is that you should evaluate why you have FOMO the next time you catch yourself feeling it. Our emotions are valid, powerful things. They dictate our outlook and how our days play out. So if you spend your time in constant fear of missing out on the next thing or the next thing, then your days will be a constant comparison of what you are doing to your friends. Figure out why you are feeling this way. Maybe something deeper is going on with yourself or with your friendships. And talk to your friends about it. They are your friends for a reason, and you will never change anything unless you try.
Good luck tackling your FOMO, and leave any tips below.