Thanks to the rise of social media and everyone with a mobile being an amateur photographer, we can barely escape seeing what everyone else is up to, whether we want to know or not.
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, was recently coined to describe quite literally what it says. We’re now almost always connected, constantly checking and being updated. When we see so-and-so having a party, getting married, chilling at a festival, getting promoted, sunning themselves on holiday, laughing over cocktails with a horde of friends, it’s like a mirror gets put up. We see ourselves; perhaps alone, perhaps bored, perhaps feeling like we’ve not done anything of interest, or perhaps feeling that our lives are simply not going anywhere.
Whether it’s a big thing (house, marriage, kids, career) or a smaller thing (friends, going to events, gushing over a new partner), it can make you feel inferior or left out.
Why are they having so much fun, why are they so busy and happy? Why am I not?
It makes me feel left out because there are things I can’t do, don’t feel well enough to do, haven’t been able to because of my health. Not that many people know what’s going on with me; I feel judged from afar that I’m simply boring, friendless, lazy or totally uninteresting because I’m rarely seen to be doing anything or going anywhere exciting. It’s far from effortless for me to do things, and that’s frustrating too.
1. Comparison is pointless. Everyone has different circumstances, especially the it comes to finances, friends and health. We all have different goals, desires and interests too, so there’s a difference between feeling as though you should be doing something, and actually genuinely wanting to do it.
2. All lives are edited for public consumption. It’s highly unlikely that others are really doing something exciting 24/7, can effortlessly juggle fun and responsibilities, or always feel loved and happy. Everyone has their down time, their struggles and insecurities; the image portrayed outwardly is often selectively chosen to highlight the good bits.
3. It achieves nothing, apart from making you feel like crap.
So, how to overcome FOMO? Care a little less…
1. Remember the above 3 points!
2. Take a social media break. This can be a fully-fledged divorce, or a temporary separation every now and then.
3. Evaluate your own life, but in more realistic terms. What do you want in life? What do you want to do today, or tomorrow, and can you make it happen? Get a better sense of yourself, your life, and what you want first, without comparing to others. Acknowledge the things that you have done, the things you’re happy about and grateful for, and be proud of yourself for your strengths and accomplishments, no matter how small. If you don’t feel strong in yourself, having what everyone else is doing shoved in your face (whether you are consciously aware of it or not), will likely only ever keep FOMO alive.
4. Keeping in mind the editing that is done on outward appearances. Things may not be as effortless, fun and wonderful for those people you think are always happy and doing it all. Whether it’s real or not, be happy for them. FOMO can easily give way to jealousy, resentment and guilt.
5. Don’t give in to temptation. Trying to compete and edit your own life won’t make you feel better for long.
6. Overcoming FOMO involves being okay with who you are and where your life is at, and being honest with yourself. It’s also about going after those things you genuinely want, whilst at the same time being content with things just the way they are, which is very different to being complacent. It’s accepting your health situation but also looking past any of those limitations. It’s no easy task, but it’s a damn sight better than always feeling like you’re missing out or not measuring up.