I’m aware that it’s hard to keep up with acronyms these days- this is coming from the girl who a few years ago had to Google “YOLO” once I saw my college-aged friends using it all over Facebook- but FOMO is one acronym that I can relate to.
For those of you who aren’t aware, FOMO is also known as the Fear Of Missing Out. It’s that anxious, worrying feeling that we get in the pit of our stomachs when we think about social interaction. It can manifest itself in many different forms and is usually hard to control. Over time, I’ve learned how to deal with it and get over this urban “fear”.
I can trace back feelings of FOMO to my teen years, although it only became very apparent when I was in college. Everyone wanted to make the most of their college experience, which meant going to every bar or party, being a member of every on-campus club and shaming anyone who wanted to stay in and watch TV on a Friday night. I admit I was guilty of this myself- I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Who knows- maybe I would find my future husband at that bar or get a full-time job from that unpaid internship. Sidenote: I did meet my boyfriend in college, but I never got a job from an internship.
After college, FOMO hit me hard. While working two jobs and balancing a long-distance relationship, I worried I was always missing out on something. I felt that if I didn’t make that weekend trip to the city, I’d miss a great time with college friends. I’d see photos online of a party I missed because I was too tired from work and I’d immediately feel guilty and lame.
FOMO made me so aware of what everyone else was doing in comparison to myself. But the truth is, you can’t compare lives of people because of two reasons. The first is that we all lead different lives. Maybe you’re missing out on things because you’re too busy with a full-time job or a relationship. Maybe you’re saving money and gas by not making that road trip that everyone else is. Everyone has different priorities and interests, and we shouldn’t be comparing our social lives and happiness levels by the events we attend or the amount of friends we have. Some of us are better off financially, located closer to cities, etc. and we can’t control that, so why bother comparing?
Secondly, social media greatly exaggerates feelings of FOMO. There are so many weekends where I have a blast, but because I don’t tweet/Facebook/Instagram 100 photos of it, people probably think I’m at home sitting on my ass. Which is fine with me. I don’t need to put on a front for the world to think I’m fun, happy or whatever adjective you want to use. Most people who excessively post things on social media are doing it for attention, and often they aren’t even having as much fun as they lead on. Harsh, but true.
Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten older, but I’ve realized that these silly things don’t matter as much as they used to. When I don’t get invited to that party of a friend-of-a-friend’s, I just laugh it off instead of getting upset (honestly, it wouldn’t have been that much fun anyway). Sure, life is short and you should take every opportunity you can, but don’t punish yourself or feel lame if you spend a weekend on the couch instead of at the Tough Mudder or wine tasting.
Have you ever experienced FOMO?