Let’s Talk About FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out

By Serena Shapero, JCS Health Educator

Even with close friends, we can still feel isolated on a regular basis. Because we get to hear about them online, read their blog posts, check out their Instagrams and see their Vines, we are constantly reminded that we are not there and it can make us worried that we are losing touch. It gives us instant FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

There are lots of red flags that could signal FOMO.  Do you struggle with being alone? Are you worried that you might miss out if you don’t hang out with your friends all the time? Do you get anxious if you aren’t included? Do you feel compelled to open social networking or text messages at inappropriate times throughout your day? Do you get yelled at for being on your phone while at a restaurant or while driving in the car? Well, you may just be a victim of FOMO.

Wikipedia defines FOMO as, “A form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying events. It is also often aroused by posts seen on social media websites.”

Fear of missing out is a real, toxic thing that can disrupt your schedule and life but it doesn’t have to take you over.

  1. The people who love you aren’t going to slip away because you don’t “like” all of their statuses or because you don’t show up to every happy hour they host. The people who judge you for those things are the people who you can leave behind because true friends don’t guilt trip you into hanging out. Don’t feel obligated to comment on every post or like every Instagram online.
  2. It’s unlikely that one of the things you’ll regret when you’re older is not having consumed enough beer in your 20s, not having bought enough $5 lattes or not having spent enough time on the internet. You’ve figured out drinking and going out. You’ve gotten your fill of internet memes. Figure something else out. The things you’ve always done are not your only options. Try doing new activities and getting out of your old routine.
  3. People will be open to you connecting with them on your terms. Find a way to tell your friends how much you care about them. Writing letters (which seems kind of old school) is once again becoming a great way to share how you feel. A simple thank you can reconnect you to people you care about and ease your worry about your connection.
  4. Find friends who respect your boundaries and needs. You are just as important as anyone else.
  5. Pick and choose what you do but know how to listen to your body if it ever feels like you are doing too much. If you start to get sick, it means you have overexerted yourself.
  6. Remember that you aren’t in college anymore and everyone no longer lives in the same city. For better or worse, we now have to prioritize the friendships that mean the most to us and spend time with those people first. Consciously keep up on the relationships you truly want and you will feel more satisfied with your close friends and feel more taken care of as a friend.

The Fear of Missing Out is definitely a real syndrome and shouldn’t be ignored. Sometimes just being aware of FOMO can be the first step to avoiding it.

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