imagesIs your life run at times by FOMO?  I just learned this acronym, and it had immediate resonance for me.  FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out.  This anxiety has been heightened by social media and the extreme degree of electronic connection some of us engage in.  But it’s not new.

I recall many situations in my earlier days, in many areas of my life, like walking a tightrope! where FOMA did indeed feature large.  Thus the resonance, and hence this note!  My hope is that it may ring some bells for you, raise some questions, bring some awareness to life patterns. Your experience and comments are most welcome!

What’s gratifying, as I write this, is to feel into the FOMO, recall the anxiety, the upset, confusion, and realize this doesn’t happen very much anymore.  Isn’t aging grand?  Or maybe it’s maturity, lightening up, insight, wisdom…Whatever is causing the softening, the lack of FOMA in my life is another taste of freedom, and it is sweet.

What are some ways FOMO has or had a grip on you?  I remember when I used to feel really anxious, concerned, agitated when eating out.  It’s embarrassing now, but I felt like I wanted to be sure to order the best menu item, interesting, tasty, distinctive.  Here I was in a particular time and place… this moment would never return again, and how could be sure I would not Miss Out on something special?!

Whew.  Exhausting. Enervating.  The energy has/had a certain thrill and excitement, for sure, but the downsides of the FOMA far outweigh any momentary surge of adrenalin.

Image 31It was a significant day when someone, a relative stranger, who happened to be at my table, and who obviously could relate to my agitation and hesitation in ordering, gave me a big boost in overcoming this form of FOMA.  He commented that he used to be up tight about ordering as well.  Food and eating featured large in his life… dieting, fasting, being careful of what you ate… (And all this was true for me as well… FOOD features every bit as large at FOMA in my past!)  But he finally came to realize that it wasn’t the end of the world even if it turned out you didn’t order the best menu item (even if there were such a thing!).  There will be another time, another meal, another chance, and how much more pleasant to relax around it, be experimental, easy, open to whatever came along.

Well.  It seems so easy and obvious now, but that was a SEE (Significant Emotional Experience) for me then, a positive one.  The relief was immediate and palpable.  It took years for me to turn my old patterns around fully, but the change in direction had started.

Another serious form that FOMO took for me had to do with whether I would be at the right seat at the table, be in the best car (where there was good company, interesting conversation) for a long drive…  It seems to me that this version of FOMA began to lesson the more comfortable I became with who I was.  When I was insecure, felt inadequate, didn’t value or accept myself, I was desperate to be around others who had qualities I perceived myself to be lacking.  Whew.  Exhausting. Enervating.  Fraught with disappointment, anxiety…

Unknown 11.59.43 AMThis too changed slowly.  But now it’s almost as though I am looking back at a different person…another era…Almost like it’s a movie I’m watching!   Kinda fun.  Certainly fascinating!

As I became more OK and accepting of myself, including my many imperfections, my deep, dark sides, and the fact that my style doesn’t work for everyone, and not being attached to what people thought of me,  it mattered less whom I was with, and I became curious and interested in who I was 🙂    And that is ever-changing adventure in itself!

Related in a reverse sort of way is something I heard about, at the time I was suffering strongly from FOMO.  In German it’s called, “Mut zur Luecke”, Courage for the Gap.  Maybe this will be the topic for another note!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)



Share this: