The Fear of Missing Out
The term “FOMO” or “fear of missing out” has circulated frequently during the past several years. It even has an official definition on dictionary.com (are they putting everything in the dictionary these days?) 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.” As social beings, it makes sense that we are so impacted by the fear of missing out on memories and experiences. We might even feel like life will move on without us and leave us behind. We’ve all experienced a group sharing an inside joke that we weren’t privy too. It feels lousy to be on the outside and we will go to great lengths to prevent that feeling. Some of these great lengths involve overextending ourselves and saying yes too often; leading to feeling emotionally exhausted and neglecting other important aspects of our lives.
The Joy of Missing Out
The idea of JOMO, or the joy of missing out, flips the idea of FOMO on its head. Although seemingly paradoxical, JOMO encourages individuals to purposefully take time apart. There really is joy to be found in taking breaks from our socially charged world, whether this means time away from your social network or a social media platform.
Taking time to meaningfully disconnect lends perfectly to opportunities to take part in self-care. Some of these self-care activities might include going on a walk in nature, participating in a hobby, filling your mind with good information from books, podcasts, movies, taking a long bath, journaling, etc. My friends always joke with me that they know when my life is out of balance when I decline plans to stay at home, read a book, and do a face mask.
I have truly come to embrace the idea of JOMO—of not needing to constantly surround myself with people and social activities—but it wasn’t easy at first! I would sit in my room, trying to be intentional about my breaks and my self-care, but really just felt a little mopey and disappointed that I was missing out on the fun. However, I soon realized how much more balanced I felt when I was not neglecting my needs in order to chase after feeling like I fit in or was attending every event or social activity. I also recognized that I was more present…present with my friends and family, present with myself, present with my work. Although it is sometimes still a little disappointing to hear about fun experiences that I missed, I can recognize that it was a sacrifice worth making. When we are so concerned about missing out, we fall out of balance, and inadvertently miss out on important times to reflect, connect, and rejuvenate.
Benefits of JOMO and JOMO Challenge
In one study done on JOMO (see this is a real thing, I’m not making this idea up) reported that participants who took intentional time apart from social activities enjoyed more alone time, saved money, prioritized their mental health, and were better able to pursue their interests and hobbies (Ward, 2017). This study also talked about how it really comes down to a balancing act and learning to recognize your own needs. Sometimes being social is exactly what I need and I come away feeling rejuvenated. Other times, I go to a social event because I don’t want to miss out and neglect my need to reflect and reconnect with myself instead and I end up feeling worn out instead of energized.
This week try to incorporate the idea of JOMO into your life. Pay close attention to your needs. Have plans but feel overwhelmed and in need of some solid self-care? Envision what joy you might find from missing out. What have your experiences with JOMO been in the past? What makes this difficult or fulfilling for you? I’d love to hear your feedback!