It happens to the best of us. You’re sitting at home, enjoying a quiet evening by yourself when BAM—a notification comes onto your phone. It’s a Snapchat from your friend.
You open it, innocently, and are exposed to a scene from a club or bar or other social gathering where your friends are enjoying themselves.
First, there’s a whiff of annoyance. Why did they feel the need to send this to me?
This is sometimes followed by a realization. Oh yeah, I was totally invited and I turned the invitation down.
Of course, next, there’s the regret. So why does this Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO) suddenly rear its ugly head?
Seeing your friends, or even complete strangers, having fun without you, has the effect of making you feel left out, regretful for not attending, and just plain bad.
But—and I know we hear this a lot, and it seems obvious, so bear with me—just because it seems like people are having more fun than you online, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually true. Why is this worth repeating?
FOMO is real
It’s true. FOMO is an actual real-life thing that can cause stress and anxiety and can prevent people from enjoying experiences they’re actually having.
Take a moment when you get FOMO to remember:
Nothing is as fun in real life as it looks like on social media
It’s okay to be by yourself on a Friday night or to do more low-key things
There are lots of different ways to enjoy yourself
Maybe you’re more introverted, so loud parties aren’t really your scene. You shouldn’t feel bad about that.
A cure for FOMO?
If FOMO is creeping up in your life more than you feel is normal, take stock:
- Are you saying no to experiences that might actually be worthwhile?
- Are you hiding in your room, or your house, where you feel comfortable, instead of challenging yourself and trying new things?
That can be unhealthy behaviour as well.
Prioritizing studying over partying is one thing (and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that) but there’s always a balance to be found. University is about saying yes to new experiences. Not always, and maybe not even most of the time, but if you don’t push yourself to exit the Netflix cocoon once in a while, you will probably regret it later on.
It’s a-okay to like to stay in and spend time by yourself. But always choosing the more comfortable option can make the fear of missing out become just...actually missing out.
It’s rare, but if you actually do find yourself with time on your hands, be mindful of how you use that time. Don’t spend that precious time comparing yourself to others (this is what can make FOMO so harmful). Instead, figure out what makes YOU happy, and spend your time doing that (whatever it may be!).