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More To Love

Feeling left out? FOMO is to blame.

Rachel Estapa

There’s a disease on the rise among 20something's. It’s subtle at first with symptoms of minor jealousy, resentfulness, restlessness and frequent refreshing of an already updated Facebook feed. As it gains strength it turns once vibrant and confident optimists about the future into self-doubting, paranoid and unhappy worriers who feel left out of the crowd.

Diagnosis: F.O.M.O. The Fear of Missing Out.

Sufferers believe life for everyone else seems to be going onward and upward -- while they feel lagging behind, waiting and worrying if life will ever pick-up.  FOMO's impact can even lead people to fill every moment of the day with "something" even if they are exhausted and uninterested; the justification is that it's far better to be busy, distracted and moving than to be caught "doing nothing."

Due to the explosion of social media, FOMO cases have risen in magnitude and 20somethings feel the brunt of it. If left unchecked, FOMO not only occupies the mind with worrisome thoughts of self-doubt, regret or resentfulness of other success-- it actually triggers psychical symptoms of anxiety like sweating, heart racing and hives.

My FOMO came in the form of feeling like I was total loser if I didn’t have Friday night plans. I was missing my former lifestyle filled with parties and friends every weekend. My FOMO made me pine for the life I had before I was laid-off, broke and anxious about the future. Everyone and everything seemed to be moving on and part of me couldn’t let go. At one point, my FOMO was so bad that every Friday night that I didn't have plans, I’d sulk the whole evening and sour my mood for the weekend. Yeah...FOMO sucks all the joy out of the room.

We’ve ALL had a case of FOMO -- but what can you do about it?

I realized I had to leg go of a lot of things from the recent past. I allowed the sadness, loneliness and agitation to all flood in without a fight and I sat with it. But I also made a conscious decision to focus on happier, positive thoughts. I wanted to look forward to my future and the only way to do that was to make peace with the past. I carved out personal quiet time, where I'd listen to music, meditate, write/write --I needed to just be still. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, but the process eventually worked for me and I now enjoy the life I’ve got  -- what an incredible relief.

Here are 3 tips to beating FOMO:

  • Social media is a trigger for FOMO. While I’d never advocate getting rid of Facebook or Twitter, you’ve got to find a balance of how much other people's lives are going to influence your own. Maybe start a routine where you turn off the computer or phone, even just for 30mins. Make that space about YOUR life -- not others.
  • Stop assuming and interpreting the life events of other people are better than your own. FOMO is a disease of comparing yourself to another. Work on this and FOMO’s grip loosens.
  • And then there’s just time. FOMO passes and it feels less scary and ominous the more you experience and find happiness within your current life. You’ll gain patience, compassion and maturity through this approach.

As a society, we’re so fixated on “what’s next/what’s missing” that we ignore the richness of the present moment. FOMO is a clue that you’ve work to do on yourself. It’s part of growing up and being human -- but don’t let FOMO completely stop you from enjoying the incredible life you’ve got.