By the Editorial Staff
Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.
We’ve all felt the fear.
Our best friends are partying without us. Our favorite bands are performing in cities faraway. Our schedules don’t allow us to go on all the adventures or attend the events and gatherings we’d die to attend.
FOMO prevails in our daily lives. We miss out and it causes us to feel jealous, envious, or regretful.
Alas, there are many ways to fight and get over FOMO. Here’s how we at BTR resist and conquer the risks of missing out.
For me it was less FOMO and more FOGO (fear of going out) that dictated my life. I’m an anxious over-thinker–always have been. As such, I often overthink myself into staying home rather than going out.
What if I want to go home before everyone else? What if that person I don’t want to see is there? What if I don’t have fun?
Of course, after whatever event or plans I overthought myself out of, I would usually wish I had gone.
Then, one night early on in college some friends invited me to go out with them, but I had to run to meet them. I had to make a quick decision so there wasn’t time to overthink it. I went.
Now, I think of that quick decision anytime I’m debating whether or not to go out. I try to make a decision quickly and not let myself overthink it. As a general rule, if I truly don’t want to go, I won’t regret staying home and vice versa.
Photo courtesy of Jason Rogers.
I have started to say “yes” more. I made the conscious decision to do so when I noticed how often my friends and I bail on plans. Understandably, we all work one or two jobs and at the end of the day, the plans we were once excited about don’t seem as appealing as our beds and Netflix.
But FOMO is fueling this “say yes” crusade of mine. It’s not necessarily the fear of missing out on an event, but more so missing out on the opportunity to spend quality time with the people I want to surround myself with.
I have learned that at the end of the night, my bed will still welcome me with open arms and that episode of Bob’s Burgers will be queued up and ready to play at anytime. As for my friends, who knows how long they will live this close to me. I’m taking advantage of that before it’s too late.
My FOMO was at its peak during my freshman year of college. I walked on to a Division I rowing team almost immediately during my first semester and it was even more demanding than I had anticipated. While my floor-mates (who were also my classmates for many of my classes) were sleeping in, partying together on weekends, and studying together during the weekdays, I was rising before the sun, partying almost never (and only with my teammates), and studying during my required athlete study hours.
Before long, I had completely missed the opportunity to bond with the people around me because I had to constantly turn down invites in favor of getting a good night of rest or heading off to a race out of town.
In the end, I saw the season through, but chose not to stay on the team for the following year. While I can still say that I recall feeling left out and alone during that time period, I have no regrets because those teammates remain some of my closest friends to this day. Being on that team was tough, but it taught me about time management and that we can’t do it all. I chose discipline over partying, but I also chose a deep camaraderie that I wouldn’t trade.
Photo by Tanya Silverman.
FOMO has actually landed me in a lot of different locales.
When I was an underclass student at Binghamton University, I’d often attend study abroad fairs and collect brochures about schools on different continents. The prospect of attending eight straight semesters in upstate New York ignited in me a personal fear that I’d miss out on a worthy experience.
I chose to spend a semester of study in Prague, Czech Republic. The time there was totally worth it as Prague ended up being one of my favorite places and I actually returned there earlier this month.
Teaching English abroad in South Korea was another decision I made because I feared I’d grow old and regret not having taken the opportunity. All in all, I feel that the fear in FOMO can be encouraging when it forces us to be proactive, rather than lament about times that we miss out.
When I was growing up, I felt FOMO frequently for reasons that seem quite trivial now. I would worry that I wasn’t spending enough time with my friends or missing out on opportunities to meet new people.
In my adult life, I don’t worry about missing out on these kinds of opportunities much any more. But I still ruminate frequently on the choices I’m making and the life paths not taken. I left a wonderful teaching job to come to New York and go to graduate school, because I knew I might not ever pursue it if I didn’t do it right then.
However, missing out cannot be totally avoided. I miss teaching and my former students, and I know that no matter the choices I make I’ll miss out on something valuable. I try to acknowledge this, but I do my best not to dwell on it.
I don’t really get FOMO.
Either I want to go to something or I don’t, and if I can’t afford it or can’t make it, so be it.
I really want to go to the Death Grips show in July, but I don’t have the money to go and they are probably already sold out.
Yes I’m bummed, but in the grand scheme of things, missing one concert won’t really matter.
Fear is the mind killer. Not to get too heady, but I believe it’s the fundamental reason behind so much of our suffering in the world. All of our pain, prejudice, and misconceptions most often spring from fears that we hold on to. While it is hardwired into our survival instincts (let’s face it, who the hell wants to die?) the only way we can lead lives filled with honesty and love is to confront the fears that we harbor and set them free.
Philosophical reflections aside, I’d be lying if I said I’d never experienced FOMO. It’s a phenomenon that’s become second nature with the advent of social media, with the reality of always knowing what other people are doing.
My personal remedy? Stay in the present and stay positive. Every moment is golden, and you can make the most out of it no matter where you are. Maybe you aren’t meant to go to the party with all of your friends tonight. Or maybe you are. Either way, seize the promise and potential in whatever path you choose, and do so without regret. Trust in your ability to choose what is right for you.
One more thing: when I used to hear someone tell me about the great things they were up to, I would almost immediately experience a pang of guilt. Not regret, but a strong feeling that I should be doing something equally as grand. I’ve since learned to give up reprimanding myself and feel truly happy for these people. It’s not about missing out, and it’s not about the self–learn to rejoice for the joy of others, even if you’re not there for the dance.
Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.
FOMO is not a huge concern of mine. While I consider myself lucky to not be affected by the alleged fear, I’m sure my lack of FOMO aggravates my friends. I go off the social media grid for hours at a time and my friends give me grief for missing even one segment of a snap story.
I prefer to plan my own fun. I enjoy going on solo adventures or hanging out with only a couple people at a time. When I’m in a big group, it means I’m obligated to do what everyone else is doing. When I go to events with a lot of people, I usually feel too overwhelmed to enjoy myself. The event is always overhyped, and there’s always an expectation to have the time of your life.
I’m not trying to sound cynical. I just don’t trust everyone else’s definition of “fun.” Sorry, FOMO. I’m really more of a YOLO girl.