As little as I feel that I relate to people who are “fun,” I have a severe case of FOMO.
For anyone not up-to-date on their hip lingo, FOMO stands for the Fear Of Missing Out, and boy do I have it. The idea of missing out on anything is one of my main motivators. Like Barney Stinson, I can’t stand the thought of fun stuff going on without having been involved. If there’s any chance that I’ll miss some funny inside joke, I’m there.
When my friends approach me with a fun idea, I just can’t say no, especially when I’m in a depressive episode and am not looking for anything to do. While I’m just living my life and trying not to make everyone too miserable with my grimacing, it seems like my friends are always finding these random exciting things to do, and I am happy to just be down for the ride.
Having FOMO and depression simultaneously can be interesting. Since depression can keep me on the couch for days, FOMO is one of the only reasons that I actually leave the house. It’s gotten me to every party, every random run to the store, and every night at a club ever, especially when these events are happening past my bedtime. There are very few things that can keep me from my bed, but the irrational fear that all of my friends will bond over something and I will feel super left out and be suddenly despised is one of them.
Hell, I’ve had my FOMO used against me on several occasions when I wanted to leave my friends and turn in early.
Picture this. It’s late, my friends and I have just finished dinner, and I’m starting to fall asleep sitting up. I tell my friends that I’m going to leave and get some sleep. All of them start commenting on how they’re going to head home, too, even if they’re not quite tired. Then, one friend gives me a side-eye as she says:
“Hey, everyone! Let’s go and get some ice cream!”
All of the other youngins who stay up past midnight immediately agree that it’s a great idea. Do I leave now and miss what could be the craziest ice cream adventure ever? Or do I stay out and postpone sleep for another couple of hours? Plus, it’s ice cream. How could I possibly turn down ice cream?
I’m always going to choose staying out with my friends. Unless there is some sort of emergency that forces me to go home, I’ll stay out until everyone else is tired or I’m so dead that I physically can’t drive myself home.
But FOMO isn’t only a shallow need for pics of me having fun for my Insta. I also find that strong relationships are born out of those wacky misadventures and moments when inside jokes are created. I want to spend time bonding with my friends and seeing where the night leads.
FOMO was very present in my dating life as well. I mean, I spent my entire dating life as poly so that I could have deep and committed relationships while also dating several people at once. Talk about FOMO!
As much as I love filling my schedule with different people, I often end up filling my schedule with different projects as well. In college, I had two majors, a minor, 4 jobs, and several clubs I’d joined. Now, I fill my schedule with writing projects, podcasts, freelance jobs, and anything else interesting that I can find. I simply can’t pass up the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things! FOMO gives me a reason to hustle.
FOMO can also lead me to try things out of my comfort zone and inspire some important self-growth. As a homebody, I knew that studying abroad would be hard for me, but when I attended a college with one of the strongest study abroad programs in the country, I knew that taking advantage of these programs was the right choice. I knew that I would regret it and miss out on so much if I didn’t study abroad. So I studied abroad twice, gained some excellent language skills, awesome memories, and a lifelong friend.
I remember telling my angst about studying abroad to an acupuncturist that came into our spiritual healing class my junior year of college. After an entire class spent avoiding his acupuncture needles as much as possible, my FOMO won out and I decided to give it a try. He was here, right? I was never going to go to an acupuncturist myself, so this was my one shot to give it a try. I allowed him to put two needles in before I started freaking out and asked him to remove them.
As everyone else filed out of the room, I explained that I was taking the same approach to study abroad — I had the opportunity, and I was going to regret it if I missed out. I just had to do it. In one of the most memorable moments of my college career, he gave me one of the best compliments that I had ever received.
“Not everyone has courage like that. That’s quite the gift.”
He called it courage. I call it hopeless FOMO, but I would like to consider myself courageous. Occasionally, when I feel down, I remember that conversation. I also remember that he had a really deep voice that didn’t fit his face or body, and I almost asked him to narrate my life. Who doesn’t want someone with a James Earl Jones-esque voice calling them courageous?! Remember who you are…
In reality, I think that my FOMO is a combination of having a constant need to move forward and being a people-oriented person. The drive to attain what I perceive as success and to relate to more people is what keeps me going. Sometimes it’s the only thing that gets me going when moving off the couch feels impossible. I know that FOMO can be destructive (after all, your mom didn’t say “Would you jump off a bridge if all of your friends were doing it?” for nothing!), but for me, it just means extra inside jokes, extra memories, and some missed hours of sleep, typically a safe distance away from any bridges.
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/