You know that sinking feeling you get when you see your friends’ Facebook photos of that party you were totally invited to but didn’t bother to attend? That was my life for pretty much all of last year while I prepared my applications for grad school. Between sorting out references, writing statements of purpose and focusing on getting the best grades possible, there was just no time to go to the yacht parties and club nights organised by my friends. Instead, my limited downtime involved rewatching Gossip Girl season 1 and blasting Drake’s Views on repeat. Fun? Yes, but it gets old pretty fast.
The Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO) is a real phenomenon, described by the Oxford Dictionary as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media”. FOMO sucks, but it doesn’t have to last forever. Here are a few tips to help you get over your FOMO just like I did.
1. Learn to enjoy your own company. As much as its great fun to go out, spending time alone (and being comfortable with it) is just as important. If you’re an extrovert like me and you get your energy from being around other people, meditation and mindfulness are good ways to cope with solitude. Make sure you have a space at home that you love, and decorate it with your favourite things. Another way to find peace in solitude is by taking up hobbies that you can do alone, like sketching or DIY.
2. Prioritize. ‘Adulting’ means that we have newfound responsibilities and that’s perfectly okay. Sometimes you have work or study obligations that are simply more important than making an appearance at – insert event here -, and avoiding them can have unwanted consequences. Remember, moments are fleeting, and unless they’re adding real value to your life and/or resume, leave them out. There’s always another time.
3. Create your own experiences. Learning to take charge of your own enjoyment will make life seem a lot brighter. When I realised I was skipping out on a lot of cool get-togethers, I began organising my own. Getting my friends together whenever I had free time was much easier than trying to rearrange my schedule to fit in countless parties. Plus, hosting socials is a great way to network and get to know people outside of your immediate circle.
4. Live in the moment, and off the ‘gram. There’s a notion amongst millennials that if we don’t share something, it hasn’t happened. The temptation to Snapchat the entire night so friends can see just how much fun we’re having is sometimes too much to bear. The truth is, social media is amazing at making things seem way better than they really are. It’s easy to forget that, just like yours, your friends’ posts are their best moments which represent a snapshot of their actual lives. So next time you feel like live streaming a video of you dancing to your favourite song in the club, put your phone down and dance away.
Admitting that you have FOMO and that it’s getting you down is the first step to beating it. There are only 24 hours in day, and it’s not possible to fill them all with super exciting brag-worthy moments. The struggle is just as important as the fun times. And although those moments may not be as appealing, they’re the most likely to pay off in the long term.