Have you heard of FOMO? Fear Of Missing Out. I’m months and months behind on the trend pieces but it is something that has been on my mind lately.
“FOMO is the fear that everyone else is having more fun, more excitement and more rewarding, anecdote-worthy experiences than you” said the Telegraph wrote last year.
I’ve never been a huge fan of trendy acronyms or portmanteaus (Don’t even get me started on “YOLO” or “glamping”), but FOMO so perfectly describes a real problem that affects twenty-somethings travelers and civilians alike. It’s partially the fault of social media; Facebook is constantly showing us that everyone else is apparently having the most interesting and fulfilling lives, and partially what I think is a natural part of being in this hard, strange and exciting phase of life.
Basically what I’m saying is that I’ve been suffering from FOMO for nearly ten years now.
The first few years of my twenties, when I was studying and then working full time, I felt FOMO acutely, even though I didn’t have a kicky name for it. I knew I wanted to travel, explore the world, have crazy adventures, but my circumstances wouldn’t let me do it.
Then I started traveling full time, and for awhile, everything felt perfect. I truly was “living my dream” by traveling, writing, exploring the world. Aside from paying for guest houses, street food and travel insurance my expenses were quite limited and my free time was endless. For maybe a year I stopped worrying what everyone else was doing and just concentrated on myself.
It didn’t last.
When you travel a lot, FOMO can hit you in some weird places. Over the past few years I’ve missed dozens of birthdays, events and spontaneous fun. I missed my ten year high school reunion because I was on my way down to Mexico. My friends had stories and inside jokes and memories that now have nothing to do with me, and it kind of sucks, because that’s time I can never get back.
I’ve written before that our twenties are hard because everything is so much of a choice. Living well means leaving some stuff out, and even if you are okay with that, really okay, it can still smart.
I’ve started to make my peace with FOMO though, because I know nobody’s life is as glamorous as they make it out to be. People who follow me on Facebook probably think I spend all my time traveling to glamorous destinations, having adventures and eating weird food. Maybe you think that too, but the depressing truth is that 85% of the time you’ll find me glued to my computer desperately begging my brain to come up with 800 words on the national parks of California.
When it comes down to it, everyone aspires to live their life to the fullest, and hardly anyone feels like they are achieving it. The antidote to FOMO isn’t to try harder, do more and be everywhere. The antidote is to chill out. What matters is not what you have, but how you react to it.
It’s not easy, but this afternoon, instead of constantly wishing for more, I am going to try to appreciate what I have. I’m going to log off Facebook, sit outside in the warm sunshine and read a book.
This post was written by me, brought to you by SCTI.