I’m too old for this — ‘Fear of missing out’ or what the kids call — FOMO and yet here I sit listening to one of my best friends express this very thing. Is this really about not being able to do something with us in lieu of adulting, or is there more at play here?
It’s defined on Wikipedia as: “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
With the holidays just in our rear view mirror it’s important for you to start the new year with some new energy.
Sadly, however, if you’re like a lot of people, in general, we can experience intense FOMO especially going through the endless scrolling on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media.
It’s important to remember that what we see from others is exactly what they want us to see. It’s crafted, it’s filtered, it’s for mass consumption but it’s made just to make it seem like everyone is having a great time — except you!
You’re probably familiar with the experience of getting or doing what you want to only feel indifferent or disappointed after…
Am I having fun yet?
In our minds we’re building up something that hasn’t happened yet. It isn’t real yet. Drop and dread, which is all too real. But you’re skipping over that in-between moment where your brain is actually having a lot of fun. It’s fun to imagine having the things we don’t. The same way when you lust after a gorgeous pair of shoes or fantasize about getting an especially adorable dog, you think, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to be so happy when…” It can make you feel excited or even giddy until you remember that your landlord has a no-dogs policy, or your budget is too tight for a splurge this month. Reality comes crashing down, and so does your mood.
But you love the fantasy. At its root, your FOMO is an escape.
FOMO is usually rooted in the uncomfortable emotions of the usual suspects: loneliness, envy, and even a hint of despair. Facing them may not be your preference, but I think the best way to lessen them is actually to give in to them.
You’re invited to the Pity Party!
The goal of people’s lives has become doing as much as possible but you can’t do everything —once you accept that, you can begin to find real happiness. I want to avoid advising anyone against acknowledging and working through real feelings of FOMO. I think FOMO, at one point or another in our life, seems to be unavoidable, because everytime we choose or commit to something, we pay the price of opting out of something else.
The best thing to do is to recognize it, give in to it, and then move through it. It’s that simple.
This means: have a pity party. Really, it might sound counterintuitive and self-defeating. It sounds negative but I’ve found the act of feeling pity and moving through it to actually be the opposite.
When we actually let ourselves feel sorry for ourselves without holding back, all those awful feelings tend to dissipate. Sometimes, they start to feel silly. Other times, it’s just a huge relief to finally get it all off your chest.
I caution, throw this pity party consciously.
Pick a time and place. A beginning and an end and then stick to it. Whatever you’re feeling like you’re missing out on identify it. Then complain as much as you want! Nothing is out of line for your thoughts or expressions during this time.
Invite the perfect pity party guests, Envy, Despair, Fury and let them have at the emotional punch bowl —But only for a certain time. I give myself 30 minutes to yell, scream, cry, get upset, write nasty notes (that never get sent), and then I push all that stuff aside.
I take comfort in knowing that I have a specific time and focus on feeling — whatever it is that I want, and then I can go back to a less heightened version of those feelings.
Totally switch gears
Then, I leave FOMO in the dust and I start reminding myself what I have that I love in my life. I journal, I watch videos that make me laugh, I go back through old photos for good memories, or I just chill and listen to a good Spotify playlist.
Sometimes, I can’t even put my finger on the reason why I feel better. I just do!
The life that we live in our imaginations, in art and in our dreams — is often more important to us than the one in which we actually live. To a large extent, it is the things that we opt out of and omit that truly make us who we are.
So if you’re feeling FOMO this year, just take a step back, allow it to be, move through it, and understand you have just opted into something that might actually be a better play for you and your purpose later down the road.