fomo signEven though it was a few years ago now, I still remember getting sent a photo from a good friend. The photo showed him and a whole bunch of my other good friends on an awesome road trip.

 

Without me.

 

Having fun.

 

Without me.

 

He hadn’t meant for me to feel left out. In fact, I think he sent the pic so I would know that they were thinking of me – that they were wishing I could be there.  It took a while for me to see that, though. At first I just felt a kick in the gut that ALL MY FRIENDS were having fun without me. How could they have fun if I wasn’t there? Look at all the fun I was missing!

 

FOMO – a dreaded combination of feeling rejected and feeling like you’ve missed out. It make us unhappy, stressed that we aren’t living the life that others appear to be, and it also makes us do things that perhaps we never wanted to do in the first place.

 

I’ve thought a lot about FOMO in the last year or so. A lot of my friends are younger than me and don’t have children. A few years ago I used to routinely spend my child free weekends going out dancing, seeing movies, doing fun grown up things. I don’t so much anymore and, while a part of me wishes I did, a more honest part of me realises that while I love dancing, I’m really not that keen on going out and getting hammered, and I don’t need to stay out until 5am because I’ve done that many times before in my life. I also get a lot more tired than I used to and the lure of PJs and a good book and/or Netflix seems more palatable than before.

 

We’re socialised to see this as an undesirable part of getting older. Jokes and memes abound about ‘another raging Friday night!’ while the person sits at home under their duvet, and while they sometimes seem to indicate that a preference for hanging out at home is legitimate, they’re really centred on the idea that getting old and boring is something to be feared or at least self-deprecatingly mocked.

 

No-one wants to be boring. No-one wants to be seen as boring. Nice but dull. *shudder*

 

What I really want is for people to invite me, but to not have to go unless I really feel like it.

 

Conquering FOMO is not necessarily conquering the fear of rejection and not being part of the ‘in-group’, especially when you really like all the people in the in-group, but about realising you don’t have to go to something just because otherwise you might miss out.

 

It’s like there are two things at play – Fear of Missing Out, and the more significant one – Fear of Being Left Out.

 

FOMO should be about not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to enjoy something you love or that would be fun.  If I don’t go to the parade or the free concert in the park I might regret it later. FOBLO is about seeing people’s social media posts about their fun awesome times and knowing you weren’t asked to join in, or hearing people talk about the awesome party they’re all going to and that awkward silence when everyone realises maybe you weren’t invited.

 

Both FOMO and FOBLO pull strong emotional strings, but I reckon there’s nothing bad with missing out. Unless it’s like a once in a lifetime thing. Sometimes ‘missing out’ makes you focus on what you really want.

 

It’s like the anxiety over whether someone ‘likes’ you or not that consumes you until you realise you never really questioned if you actually really like them and then you’re in Paris with them on a Romantic Weekend and finding EVERY SINGLE ONE of their mannerisms annoying and wishing you were somewhere else. {This is a True Story…It was a Disaster…Paris is great though}

 

Being by yourself or making your own event or thing you don’t want to miss out on is not a bad thing. It is possible to have fun by yourself and also possible to put yourself out there to create your own opportunities, meet new people. Ask people if you can go along. Recognise that maybe you don’t want to do the thing, you just don’t want to not have the chance to do the thing. The more at peace I am with who I am and where I am in my life right now, the less FOMO (and less FOBLO) I have.

 

So don’t let FOMO push you into doing things you actually don’t feel like, and don’t let FOBLO stop you from seeing how great you are and how great things can be for you.

 

Because missing out isn’t always a bad thing, and you never know what’s out there waiting for you instead.

FOMO fun by self

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