The rampant disease no one is talking about: FOMO

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

 

I was dead tired.

 

Friday night after a long week—going into a long weekend.

 

All I wanted to do after finishing up work around 8:45 p.m., was grab some grub, take a shower, maybe read a little and go to bed.

 

Call me an odd bird, but I love chill Friday nights. Decompressing from the week and ‘getting life together; so I can use the weekend to have fun, relax or catch up on some writing and blogging. Friday nights may entail something like: A fun workout. Grocery shopping. Cleaning while listening to Sam Hunt or Hillsong United radio on Spotify. Doing laundry. (Yes, I called myself odd already).

 

So at 8:45 p.m., as I drove towards the grocery store for my ho-hum Friday night, I passed by the University of Texas’ campus drag and…witnessed the nightlife beginning to come alive.

 

(I love living in the town where I went to college. It brings back fond memories of campus life).

 

The 18, 19, 20-year olds were just getting started: emerging from their fraternity or sorority houses and dorm rooms to eat late night pancake dinners at Kerby Lane and burgers at Martin’s Kumback shack, noshing on ice cream sandwiches at the new Mooja ice cream bar, and donned in 80’s costume get-ups—walking towards the themed party for the evening.

 

The scene made me smile, reflecting on how much changes—nearly 10 years removed from it all.

 

FOMO-“Fear of Missing Out.”

 

 

I had it BIG time—middle school, high-school, college…

 

Perhaps you’ve heard of this urban dictionary epidemic before.

 

In essence FOMO is defined as: “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”

 

Constantly feeling like I needed to be on the go, dressed to impress, or have a great story tell about my crazy fun weekend on Monday, I often forced myself to go out and about—no matter what the event.

 

And I often kept a checklist in my head of all the cool or acceptable social happenings I had been part of:

 

 

  • In middle school: AOL Instant Messenger every single day immediately after school when I got home; Every single sport or extra-curricular activity I could possibly squeeze into my schedule; Sleepovers Friday nights; The mall with friends Saturday afternoon; Dance party Saturday night

 

  • High-school: Facebook status updates of the latest happenings; Friday night lights (football games); After-school coffee dates with at least one friend; Saturday parties or group hangouts in the Wal-Mart or school parking lot; Homework and study dates with more friends on Sunday afternoons

 

  • College: Daily friend time; Weekend games, frat parties, board game nights; More status updates and pictures on social media

 

All fun things, certainly—but fun things that I let determine whether  I had ‘cool’ points or not; popular or not; social or not.

 

And although I ABSOLUTELY LOVE being with people, this continual nagging to ‘be part of something’ or have a social agenda…was completely and utterly exhausting.

 

Very rarely did I…catch my breath.

 

I never had time to recharge my own batteries myself.

 

While FOMO definitely seems more rampant amongst teens though, we as adults can equally struggle:

 

  • Instagram posts remind us what funny or amazing things we are not doing (or capturing)

 

  • Great Facebook announcements about new jobs, or opportunities, or fun times make us think: Why her, but not me?

 

  • A holiday weekend is synonymous with needing to make some fun plans of some sort—some BBQ bash to be part of, lake outing to join, block party, or group hangout

 

  • Networking events force us to put smiles on our faces, shaking hands, telling others about what it is we do (but inwardly wishing we were ‘better’ or more successful or as successful as someone else)

 

  • Seminars and inspirational workshops with great speakers inspire us to be greater than we already are (and jealous of why that person is)

 

  • Hearing our friends talk about a cool upcoming party or event they are going to make us secretly wish we were invited too

 

  • We long for connection, meaningful friendships and relationships—to be part of something, a community; We wonder why everyone else seems to have friends but not us…

 

 

Fast forward back to my Friday night scene; I arrived to the grocery store and began my shopping expedition: Rotisserie chicken, spinach, asparagus, avocado, potatoes, eggs, bananas, and on. As I began heading towards the check out to get on my merry way to my planmy plan to eat dinner, shower and read, I ran into a friend of mine—a new friend, really, an acquaintance of mine.

 

We caught up for a moment before she said, “I’m starving!” and I told her I’d accompany her on her grocery expedition. As we both headed to checkout, she quickly realized… “Oh no! I left my wallet at home.”

 

“No worries! I’ll spot you,” I replied (that’s what friends do!)

 

Bada bing, bada boom: Salmon dinner at your service!


 

“Thanks so much, what are you doing tonight?!” she asked.

 

And before I could answer, she asked: “Wana watch a movie…or go on a walk…or cook dinner?!…How about I come over?…You live close right? That’s great, I will be there in 5!” she said—without so much as giving me one word in either way.

 

By this time it was about 10 p.m. and I was tired, hungry and ready to be home.

 

FOMO was definitely not in my cards.

 

However…something within me told me to simply respond to her self-invite: “YES! Sounds great.”

 

And so I did.

 

By 11 p.m., dinner was cooked and we dove into our grub as we talked about…life.

 

Conversation with this new friend ended up leading to deeper topics than you do with most acquaintances and before long, we were talking life purpose, mission and dreams (#thethrivelife).
And what I quickly found out is that this friend was hungry…hungry for connection, feeling purposeful, worthy.

 

As we talked, she opened her heart open wide: stating that she didn’t feel like she had much community here in Austin…that she was at a loss about what to do with her job—a job she didn’t love…and in a funky place of low self-confidence—really just struggling with feeling like she had anything valuable to give or offer.

 

In other words: she needed friends. (Don’t we all?)

 

By midnight, dinner was finished, and my friend headed out, thanking me for inviting her to come over (ha, even though she had invited herself)…and left me thinking: I am so glad I did.

 

Sleep will always be there. Routine will always be there. To-dos will always be there. And, really, what makes life go round is people—and there were no regrets in being a little touch of community my friend needed Friday night.

 

While my FOMO may be distilled somewhat at this stage in my life (at least compared to middle school, highschool and college days), this Friday night was a great reminder of the vitality of being present wherever we are at, and doing the ONE of the primary things that I believe we are all called to do in this lifetime:

 

  • Love others as we love ourselves.

 

Taking this lesson to heart, I resolved that more thoughtfulness (of others) is needed in our day in and day out. More than simply being amongst people—out of our own selfish desires to see and be seen…truly present and connected to those around us in order to lift them up.

 

There is a difference between FOMO and seeking to be others-centered in our daily, weekly, and weekend social to-dos.

FOMO is a fear of missing out because YOU feel like you are personally going to be affected—socially, cool points, self-confidence, social savvyness…

 

Get over your FOMO by seeking to genuinely be OTHERS centered. We can most certainly be social butterflies!—but when we genuinely do so out of the intention to really lift others up…the payback for our social connectedness is exponential! (we leave not feeling…dry; whereas FOMO leaves us feeling empty not long after, until the next event or social to-do we take part in).

 

As cheesy as it may sound: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

No regrets.

 

 

 

 

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