FOMO


The Fear of Missing Out.

The term recently cropped up on my mental landscape appearing as if it had been there all along, which, if I’m honest, it always was: I just didn’t know what to call it. Suddenly, a whole host of my fears and jealousies and petty grievances fit neatly into a category: the fear of missing out. The fear of not being included. The fear of not being good enough.

For all my independence and the genuine pleasure that I derive from solitude, there is a part of me that longs to be a part of a group and to be included in their adventures. But I’m the kind of person who, yes, needs an engraved invitation- a direct and personal confirmation that my presence is wanted. I suspect that this is a factor of being an introvert- the task of socializing takes such a monumental toll on my energy that I find myself looking for reassurance that the effort will be worth it. And without that reassurance, it is easier to just stay home.

So ‘missing out’ happens pretty regularly and is often a completely voluntary choice. The Fear kicks in when I want to go out and do something and don’t know how to join in, or when someone else talks about doing something that I’ve always wanted to do and I feel suddenly, profoundly inadequate for not being able to just do it myself. Make new friends. Chat up someone I admire. Get into a hip club or exclusive event.

Extravert sports, usually. Things that require a certain facility with people- strangers in particular.

I had a friend who went out of town for a few days over the weekend. Upon returning he sent me a message telling me how he’d hit it off with a Lyft driver: as if it were just that easy to make friends.

I felt a stab of something that I couldn’t quite name: anger? Jealousy? Resentment? Fear? Inadequacy?

Yes, all of the above. I couldn’t even articulate it: I was just feeling it in my guts with force.

It bothered me for days.

The word “FOMO” danced across my awareness and I realized it was the name that I’d been missing: I was angry and hurt because he’d gone and had fun and made a friend and I was afraid it was an experience that I was missing out on.

I brought this up the next time that we spoke, and found that I could suddenly make sense of my feelings and put them into words. And, having been able to put those feelings into words and those words into a conversation I was able to communicate how I’d been feeling.

And suddenly I didn’t feel it anymore.

So if I’ve learned one thing it is that finding the right name for specific feelings can make all the difference in being able to relieve the burden of them.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 30, 2018.

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