a feeling of anxiety or insecurity over the possibility of missing out on something, as an event or an opportunity
Whether you admit it or not, we all compare our lives (the good, the bad, the ugly) to others’, constantly wondering if we could do more or if we are missing out on something better. FOMO is an acronym with a silly connotation but it is a serious feeling that affects people of all generations. The fear of missing out can be crippling and can easily deteriorate your individuality, happiness with your life, and the ways you interact with others. This feeling extends much further than constantly checking your Facebook or refreshing Instagram. As a society, we are dependent on social media for news, entertainment, and to connect us with others around the world. With that, comes a bombardment of information that can have negative consequences depending on how you consume it.
In many ways, social media has taken control over our feelings of validation and has made a lot of us succumb to the pressure of societal expectations. The technology generation has been taught to see our presence on social media platforms as proof of our existence and worth…but it doesn’t have to be that way. After you read this article, you will have been schooled in FOMO and how to avoid falling into its trap.
Let’s break FOMO down. Psychologically, FOMO speaks to our want to be loved and included. Often, someone who wants to be included will do what it takes to be a part of the pact. So does this mean that the more FOMO-like feelings you have, the more insecure and unstable you are? I’m not certain about this idea just yet, but it’s important to understand where these feelings come from. The media has been trivializing FOMO, but it’s a feeling that should be talked about seriously since our generation is so invested in social media. The first step to removing FOMO from your life is to carve out time to get to know yourself and learn to love everything that comes with who you are. It’s an unhealthy habit to solely seek validation from others when at the end of the day, you have to take ownership of your life and decisions. With that, you have to make the conscious decision to love the life you have or make the appropriate changes to make it better. The more self-actualized you are, the less likely you’re going to be affected by what everyone else is doing.
You are not alone in your feelings of FOMO. We have all felt like we are wasting our lives away as cooler people are doing cooler things while you’re at home taking pictures of your cat…or is that just me? I live in New York City and the feelings of FOMO have been strong the past few months. The thought alone of going out in the frozen tundra that is NYC makes me want to take a nap. Whether it’s going to a party or simply meeting your friends for lunch, if you’re not up to it then don’t feel bad for doing you. With any of your feelings, don’t undervalue them. Shatki Gawain, author and proponent of self-development, said, “When we consistently suppress and distrust our intuitive knowingness, looking instead for authority, validation, and approval from others, we give our personal power away.” The point is, we have all felt like we are doing something wrong but here’s the thing: living your life in the perfect way for you can never be considered wrong. Take ownership of your life and live with no regrets!
Introverts, this one is for you. I consider myself to be on the introvert spectrum and often have to force myself to get out of the house. I find comfort in my natural environment. I have my bed, a book, Netflix, a cup of tea and I’m set. However, I’m at the age where I “should” be going out and taking advantage of my youth. I turn 21 in April and I know I am going to feel the pressure to go out and drink even more. I’m going to be completely honest; I’m not a fan of going out more than three times a week and I will never be that person who parties in abundance. The biggest favor you could do for yourself is to be true to your intuition about what is wrong or right for you.
Let me walk you through a situation. It’s 12 p.m., you’re eating lunch and browsing Instagram. You see some old classmates posted pictures from the night before. They’re at a bar and there’s plenty of alcohol in the picture. Suddenly, you feel disappointed in yourself because the last time you’ve had a drink is when your crazy aunt made you drink wine with her. You decide to get some friends together to go out that night but you end up hating the experience and feeling like there is something seriously wrong with you. The lesson in all of this is to never live under anyone else’s standards but your own. Just because your friend is partying it up doesn’t mean you have to prove yourself to anyone. This brings me to my next point…
Be present. I’m guilty of checking my phone every three seconds to see if I got a new text or if there is a status on Facebook I need to see. I also used to be guilty of taking pictures of my food…all the time. This is a no judgement zone, right?! When you take the time to take a selfie, edit it, post it to all of your social media platforms, and wait for likes, you are quite literally removing yourself from an authentic experience of being present. Has anyone else wondered that if you’re having such an amazing time…why waste precious time posting to social media? That can wait for later. Just saying. Appreciate what is happening in front of you in order to feel that sense of fulfillment of creating meaningful memories and relationships with those around you.
Learn to use social media wisely. Our dependency on social media validation has gone so far that if our posts haven’t been liked enough, we delete them. Our thoughts and opinions still matter whether others like them or not. I’m not telling anyone to quit social media cold turkey because the internet is an amazing thing. But we all need to check ourselves in how we live online compared to offline. Are we investing too much time and effort into our online personas that we are losing our ability to be 100% us in real life? We are not missing out when we turn off our phone for a few hours. Life continues so make the most of it.
In our daily lives there aren’t many things we have control over but we will always have control over ourselves. We determine whether the actions of others make us feel less than or if we give too much power to negative thoughts that enter our minds. It is unfair to compare your life to others when there is no comparison to be made. Whatever is happening in your life, whether that is going to expensive restaurants or staying in alone, matters and should be cherished. Live your life fully and authentically for your best interests and you won’t find yourself worrying about missing out. You’ll already be exactly where you need to be.
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