FOMO, or, the Fear Of Missing Out. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, or if you’re like me, feel you often personify it, but the term FOMO has come about recently with the rise of social media. With all of your friends (and potentially, the world) posting their fabulous lives all over the internet, it can be hard not to wonder, “Am I missing out on something?”.
On the internet, our friends are having fabulous adventures, they’re at fabulous events, deeply in love with their significant others, seeing the world, casually hanging out in some effortlessly stylish getup, sampling exotic and super-trendy foods and seeing your favourite bands, all photographed beautifully for the world to see. Even if they’re dorking about, something about their lives can somehow look a whole lot more magical than your own life.
These things affect the best of us, and even more so when we are depressed or suffer from social anxiety. Slowly, but surely, the thoughts pop into your head more and more frequently;
‘Why wasn’t I invited?’
‘I wish I looked like that in photos’
‘Their life looks like so much fun’
‘They always look so beautiful/stylish/like they’re having fun’
‘Is everybody hanging out without me?’
Even if we don’t vocalise these thoughts, it can sometimes be hard to escape them. What’s worse is that, if we don’t know how to combat them, they chip away at us, until suddenly we’re believing that our own life is sad, inadequate, boring, ugly, frumpy and predictable.
This, is what is known as the dreaded ‘FOMO’. And if you aren’t careful, it really can bring you down.
Combat the FOMO
Embrace your FOMO
Just as the first step in addressing any issues, admitting what it is can be very liberating. When it comes to FOMO, you can do this in a couple of ways.
First of all, whenever a FOMO thought/feeling comes around, you can just dismiss it as a thought. I learnt this from Jess, one of the masterminds behind the fantastic meditation and fitness programs run by Holistic Living. Whenever you notice those feelings of inadequacy, recognise it in the moment, and say that thought in your mind again, after the phrase, “It’s just a thought”.
“It’s just a thought…that I’m not good enough”
“It’s just a thought… that I’m not fit enough”
“It’s just a thought… that my friends are avoiding me”
By adding that phrase and dismissing the thought, it removes the power of the words and their affect on you.
If FOMO has you doubting the greatness of your own life, take a step back to observe the magical things about your own life. Even if you are having a terrible day, there are plenty of things to be grateful for. Mindfully taking note and reminding yourself of the great things in your own life can help put your FOMO in perspective. Remember the good things you have and have done, and what you see online will seem less important in comparison.
Your life is actually pretty great when you stop and take stock of it.
Or, in a very moderate way, you can use your FOMO as inspiration in your own life. Just make sure you aren’t beating yourself up or comparing yourself when you do this. If there is a part of your life that you aren’t happy about, reassess, and make changes where you can. There is no rule that says that you can’t do this.
Perhaps you see a friend on a holiday? Do a web search of places you might like to visit, or visit a travel agent. Do some research, budget out your finances and figure out how long it would take for you to save up and go there.
If you like what someone is wearing, ask them where they bought it from. Most of the time they are flattered by your interest, and it could be a perfect opportunity to ask them if they’d like to hang out and go shopping because you like their style and want some pointers. GREAT way to make friends!
Remember that most of us only show the “best” of our experiences online
Think of the last time you posted something online; a selfie, a “check-in”, a photo of the view. Do you remember your motives when you posted it? Did you take lots of photos until you found the “perfect” shot? Use filters, spell-check and even asked someone’s opinion before you put it up?
We all do this from time-to-time, if not every time we want to post something. I don’t like saying that this is only about what other people think of us though. Sure, it has a lot to do with it, but there are other factors, like the fun and creativity of the thing we are posting, and also the fact that, once you put something on the internet, it is there forever.
So the next time there are some posts that are getting you down, think about how long it took that person to take that photo, remember that specific quote or come up with that witty joke, and remember we are all human. For the most part, our humanity means that we want to make those around us smile and share in our happiness.
If all else fails…
Take a break. Take time away from social media (a week, or a month) or turn off your notifications so that you only get bombarded on the days you actually log in. It’s ok to need a break from it and you don’t need to announce it to the world if you do need it. Take a step back, recalibrate, and work out what’s really important to you.
Take the time away from it to nurture your relationship with yourself and do the things in life you feel like you’re missing out on.