It's a bit embarrassing, but for a long time I had no idea what FOMO stood for. It's more than embarrassing, actually, it's ironic. Why is it ironic? Well, because I have the worst case of FOMO.
For those of you out there living under a rock like I apparently was, FOMO stands for 'fear of missing out'. It's a modern-day catch phrase with a similar meaning to "the grass is always greener" idiom that has been around for ages. FOMO is basically an anxiety or apprehension around the idea that others might be experiencing something that you're not. It's the fear that your experiences aren't good enough when compared to those of others.
Social media definitely doesn't help anyone who experiences FOMO. Every time I scroll through Facebook or Instagram, I'm overwhelmed by other people's experiences. Sure, we all know that people generally only post their very best moments on social media, and that the snippets you see of someone else's life are the moments they strategically selected for you to see.
I say that from experience. I posted about 50 photos from a recent trip to New Zealand on Facebook, and every single one is awesome. I also have about 950 other photos that didn't make the cut. Even though I seriously doubt I'm alone in the 'strategic filtering' game, it's still easy to feel a twinge of jealously when you see an acquaintance's amazing Cinque Terre shots.
I'm also a daydreamer. I'm constantly thinking about the future and what is going to happen next. When I'm not thinking about the future, I'm nostalgic about the past. The problem with always reliving the past or dreaming about the future is that you sometimes miss out on the present moment. I'm working on it.
I'm also the type of person who literally gets stressed at the idea of missing out. I went bungee jumping and hated every second of it because I couldn't not do it if other people were. If I think someone is doing something more exciting than me, jealousy totally starts to creep in. It's not a great personality trait, trust me, and I've been like this forever. I remember buying presents for my friends when I was in high school and having to buy the same item for myself so I didn't get jealous. Jealous of the present I had bought. Absolutely ridiculous.
I wish I could say I've outgrown my FOMO but, even now, nothing is ever enough for me. I feel drawn to travel excessively, but I still want to invest in having a successful career. I want to stay in luxury hotels, but I also want to get off the beaten path. I want to go to champagne brunches with friends, but I also want to spend the weekends outdoors. I live in Sydney, but I get jealous of what I'm missing out on in my hometown. When I'm in my hometown, I'm anxious about what I'm missing back in Sydney.
As much as I hate how often FOMO surfaces in my life, this social angst is also what drives me. The fear of what I might be missing is what motivates me to achieve and to seek adventure. It forces me to do everything I can to get as much as I possibly can out of life. Sure, I can't do absolutely everything, but I can definitely try to do as much as humanly possible.
FOMO gets a bad rap, and usually for good reason. It can consume you and lead to lost perspective and feelings of constant dissatisfaction. Even still, I don't think FOMO is always a bad thing.
Acknowledge it. Use it. Leverage it. As cheesy as this is going to sound, let your FOMO drive you to be the absolute best you can be. Don't let it control you, but let it fuel your desire to get as much as you possibly can out of life. #YOLO
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