If you’re a social media user/lurker, you may have come across #fomo. To clear up any confusion, FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” It’s a term describing how freaked out we feel when we think we aren’t involved in something amazing that everyone else is doing. We may be racked with anxiety because, for example, we passed up an opportunity to go to an amazing party or an important job workshop, because we chose to stay home and relax instead. Or, maybe we have tons of choices on a given day, but we are paralyzed by indecision when it comes to deciding what to ultimately do, because #FOMO!! If we choose A, then we automatically can’t do B or C – but oh my, we’ll miss out on the amazing stories and shenanigans, and we won’t be part of the hilarious inside jokes!! Oh, if only we could clone ourselves so we could be everywhere at once, and not have to deal with this constant feeling of missing out on the best parts of life…
You can already see how this can get sticky and self-defeating really quickly. And I certainly don’t mean to make light of it – all people have to make hard decisions about how to spend their limited time. But while it’s a valuable trait to want to make the most of our time, we can avoid the dark side to this #fomo phenomenon if we re-direct our focus and accept certain truths. One such truth: With every decision we make, there’s a cost – and that cost is any alternative decision we could have made instead. And in this era of social media, we are bombarded more than ever with images of what we missed out on.
But the thing is – we rarely focus on what we GAIN from the activities we DO choose. We are so caught up in spinning our wheels about what we’ve passing up, that we don’t allow ourselves to fully absorb and appreciate the moment we’re actually in.
So next time you’re tempted to fear what you’re missing out on, just pause for a moment. Reflect on the benefits of the experiences you ARE choosing. Accept that you simply cannot experience everything simultaneously. But remember what a gift that is – because when you do one thing at a time, you can be more fully present and able to take in the beauty of the moments you choose, even if they’re not always pleasant. There is always a gift embedded in each experience, even if it’s painful or doesn’t look as glamorous as your friend’s Facebook pictures. When you can slow down, get out of your head, and begin to fully experience those nuggets of feeling in the activities you choose, you’ll realize that you are never, ever in danger of missing out on anything truly important for your growth.