Fear. Of. Missing. Out. I used to be the girl who opened up the dance floor and who closed down the bar. Who hit the after parties, and who walked home in her bar clothes, often, in the morning, not having slept. These habits crept their way well into my 30s. I was afraid that if I didn't go until my battery died, that I would miss out of the chance to be funny, the chance to find someone special, the chance to be accepted, the chance to find an adventure. And when I think about FOMO in my past, it's interesting how it is totally connected with a night out on the town, probably wasted.
Ironically, I am probably missing out on many of the details of my life, having been inebriated for a good portion of weekends between the ages 18-35; that's 17 years. Ugh!
Peculiar how life morphs, sometimes over the course of a night, and sometimes in the blink of an eye.
I don't know when my relationship with missing out changed. But it did. Perhaps, in the blink of an eye. I do not miss sloppy nights out and hangovers. I no longer feel like I need to prove myself when my inhibitions become porous with the help of a drink. I do not miss feeling large and in charge with it's me and my drink-ski. I don't miss any of it. None. When I think about missing out, now, in my early 40s, it's much closer to home. It's right here, under my nose … and I have mentioned it again and again. I fear missing out on what is happening in my real life, away from my phone.
I feel like a hypocrite writing this, because it feels a hell of a lot like do as I say and not as I do. For that reason, I offer you no advice. My phone is a drug. Truth is - I feel like I NEED it to advance. To get ahead as I work my way to financial freedom. The problem - is that I lack the focus to open it - do desired task, and close it. There is always one more post, one more scroll, one more search. Opening to check the weather has me racing down a rabbit hole, unaware of what is going on in my peripheral vision (aka - my real life).
So, that's what I have FOMO about these days. Perhaps this isn't a post to advise you at all, perhaps this is when I say HELP! What's working for you and how can I get a grip (no pun intended) on this relationship.
I don't want to miss out - and here's your permission slip to call me out on it if you see it happening. You can kindly say, "Diane, life is amazing out here!" I'll get it. xo
FOMO might look like this.
Like it is - According to Vail My first thought about FOMO was that I used to really struggle with the Fear of Missing Out when I was in high school and college, but I am much more evolved now. I am rarely worried these days if I miss a party or if I hear that others have gotten together and I wasn’t there. That used to really get me going. The negative thought patterns would set it. Did they not want me there? Am I not fun to be around? Am I a total nerd? You get the picture. So my conclusion was that I don’t have a FOMO problem… then, I thought again.
Now that I have fully embraced my nerdiness, which I would rather call uniqueness, I think FOMO shows up in two other major areas of my life.
Living Abroad FOMO: When one lives abroad, far away from family and many friends, it is probably impossible for the geographic distance not to cause FOMO. I really LOVE my family and when I see post or pictures of them together in Michigan. My heart aches all the way down here in Mexico. I am worried that I am missing all the important moments. I fear that I am losing connection. I sometimes am racked with guilt that I am not there, that I am missing the little stuff. This is the big FOMO in my life.
Phase of life FOMO: Another manifestation of FOMO I could characterize as more of a phase of life fear. I am a late bloomer in many senses when it comes to the big milestones most people go through as an adult. This does not mean that I regret the pace at which my life has unfolded, but at every pass I have kind of felt like I was behind. In my twenties, when my friends were pairing off and getting married, I decided to chuck it all and move to another country. The experience of living in another country was thrilling and new, but I couldn’t shake the FOMO on marriage. I wondered what it was like and if I would ever make it down the aisle. I did.
This continued and deepened as those pairs began to have children and create their families. My husband and I began to try to catch up, to create a family of our own, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked on Facebook and Instagram. We struggled, and struggled and struggled. We met with doctors, we tried almost anything that you can imagine to become parents, but at so many moments it seemed impossible and elusive. Cue FOMO. I grieved and felt the FOMO of becoming a mom. Every belly that I saw was a crushing reminder of that fear.
So with so much experience with FOMO, what is the solution? I have found that really investigating the fear, getting to know it and letting it be gives it space and allows it to release a bit of a grip on my life. I discovered Tara Brach during the last part of my FOMO journey and she uses an acronym with self-compassion: RAIN.
Recognize what is going on; Allow the experience to be there, just as it is; Investigate with interest and care; Nourish with self-compassion.
Makes a lot of sense to me to fight one acronym with another. The Fear of Missing Out, like any other fear, will always be there, but I think that we get to decide how scary it is and how much space in our lives it can take. One final thought on the specific fear of missing out. You chose your life. If you are missing out on something, it is because you chose the other option. So, enjoy the hell out of the option you chose. Brach, Tara. True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. Bantam Books, 2016.