Fear of Missing Out, or FoMO, was something I often experienced way before I knew there was a funny acronym for it. Being casual friends with several different circles throughout high school, I didn’t feel like an integral part of any one friend group. I felt like an afterthought, dispensable, unimportant.
I’d be invited to places, granted there was enough space for me once plans had already been set. Other times I just wouldn’t be invited at all, which is a hard pill for a socially insatiable teen to swallow.
So I started taking matters into my own hands. I started making plans for myself instead of waiting around to be invited to things. I paid attention to who flaked out on our plans together and let them fade out of my life. Over the years, I’ve grown a circle of irreplaceable friends who make consistent effort to spend time with each other and make sure everyone feels included.
Once in a while, it happens, though. It’s hard to miss, especially with how Snapchat and Instagram stories ensure you’re well aware of all the things your friends are doing without you. And it’s hard to avoid thinking about how nice it is to just be invited to things, whether you were actually able to make it or not.
What has helped me fight FoMO more than anything is finding something that I am perfectly content with, and usually even prefer, doing by myself. For me, it’s music. Playing, writing, and listening to music is something I can do all day without feeling like I need anyone’s company to make it a fulfilling pastime.
I think everyone could benefit from having a solitary hobby. Whether it’s poetry, painting, gardening, cooking, ceramics, knitting, or cosplay, I think developing a creative skill you can practice and refine alone is something I would recommend, because it’s necessary for living a fulfilling life.
Obviously, having a connection to others is essential to our well-being, but being creative can help us understand ourselves in a private and intimate way that cannot be experienced in the company of others.
Really understanding this concept and putting it into practice has pretty much all but obliterated any FoMO I might otherwise feel, because I know that I can have a fun, fulfilling, and cathartic time on my own.
Another thing that has helped me get over FoMO is not taking it personally when I don’t get invited to things. Part of friendship is trust, and if I’m not invited to something, I trust there’s a reason other than, “They must just not want me around.”
It’s easy to wind up on social media and feel like you’re missing out on quite a bit. Oh, look, someone you know is in Europe or South America. Some other people you know are hiking, or on a boat or something. But don’t worry, people can be lonely anywhere, and those midway into extravagant vacations are no exception.
Just remember, you’re ultimately responsible for going out into the world and doing something with your time, and scrolling through Instagram is a good indicator that you’re probably not on the right track to doing that. If you’re experiencing FoMO, being on social media is probably the last thing you should be doing.
You only have so much control over whether people invite you to shit or not. If they don’t, who needs them, anyway? Do something for yourself, with yourself, instead of wallowing in that feeling. After you’ve practiced some mindfulness or painted an acrylic landscape or gone for that daily exercise you keep managing to forget about, you can decide whether or not your friends are being careless with your emotions and take action accordingly.