In my early 20s, I suffered big time from FOMO. Whenever I wasn’t out and about on the ‘scene’, I was terrified I was missing out on something amazing – some unique experience that would pass me by that I would miss. As I have grown older and the years have passed, my Fear of Missing Out has subsided, gradually at first, then rather rapidly. It wasn’t an easy transition – I struggled with nights spent at home, wondering what was happening outside. On the flipside, this fear would often push me to go out, even when all I wanted to do was be at home, on the couch, with a good book.
Social media plays a big part in fuelling our modern-day fear of missing out on something. We sit at home, on our computers, and look at the virtual realities our friends have created online. Keep in mind that people’s social profiles are heavily constructed – they project to the world what they want you to see and think of them, not necessarily the life they actually lead. Sure, that girlfriend is having a fabulous time in Mykonos, but you didn’t see the six weeks of 14-hour days she spent in the office, saving up for that trip. There is always a downside to people’s lives that you will never see, particularly not on social media, so take a step back from your computer, and live your life in the present, without comparing yourself to other people’s virtual realities.
Fed up with letting this irrational fear dictate my decisions, I gradually learnt to listen to my gut feeling when it came to deciding what it was I truly felt like doing. Honing in on this is a real gift, and being able to master this can bring great comfort and solace to one’s mind.
When you feel FOMO creeping up on you, ask yourself these questions:
What is it that you are really afraid of missing out on?
If the thought of staying home on a Friday night makes you queasy, consider this: what are you actually missing? Is it just another night at the bar, wasting money on expensive cocktails, pushing yourself to socialise when your body is dying to relax, and waking up on Saturday morning with a hangover? If this is the case, are you actually missing anything at all? Listen to yourself here. Friday nights are the worst for this – colleagues push each other to ‘unwind’ with a glass (or 5) of wine, to have a late dinner where the booze directs you to make less than desirable food choices, and to stay out late. If what you really want is a homemade pizza, a glass of red and a DVD at home, then do it!
What is the worst thing that will happen if you don’t go out?
Maybe you’re single and you want to be out and about in hope of meeting someone. Yes, this is a reasonable argument for why you shouldn’t stay at home, but also consider that the harder you look for someone; the less likely it probably will occur. Being in the right frame of mind for this sort of thing requires you to be relaxed and be open to the idea of meeting new people and letting someone into your life. Being out and about because you feel that is what you should be doing is not creating a healthy atmosphere for attracting people into your life.
Perhaps you are feeling under pressure to ‘be seen’, be out and about, or to be at the latest place. Consider why this is, and again, reassess why you feel this way. That brand new bar will still be there tomorrow, and the next weekend. Why do you have to go right now? Listen to what your inner dialogue is telling you, and follow it.
To really be true to yourself, you have to do exactly what it is you want to be doing, not what some internal fear is telling you to do. Bars and clubs will always be there. Restaurants will open again tomorrow for another day of trade. Friends, new and old, will not turn their backs on you because you decide against a night out. Next time you feel this silly fear creeping up on you, address it head on, and do what is best for you.