By Adunola Adeshola
FOMO [fear of missing out]: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
If you haven’t heard, FOMO is real.
It’s the tingling feeling you get when you happen to see your friends on Snapchat enjoying a trip in the South of France while you’re sitting at your cubicle waiting for time to pass you by.
It’s the gnawing thought you experience that one night you decide to stay home on Friday and you realize that everyone else is out having the time of their lives, together. While, you’re on your couch eating ice cream.
It’s the worry that causes you to question your own achievements, when you see your old high school friend post yet another accomplishment on Facebook or when you see a beautiful post about another relationship on Instagram.
If you can attest to any of those emotions then, you’ve experienced FOMO. Don’t be ashamed we all have. I didn’t even know that there was a word to describe it. But whether the term FOMO was created because of Facebook, the anxiety we feel when we see other people enjoying a life we think we deserve has always been there.
Before social media even became a concept, we’ve been experiencing FOMO. It’s why we keep up with the Joneses. It’s why we find ourselves heading to the same restaurant we saw someone rave about not too long ago. We just have to be a part of it. I would even argue that it’s why word of mouth is so popular; no one wants to be out of the loop.
We all want to be able to say we were a part of that exciting, interesting, fun thing that everyone is talking about.
Without a doubt, social media has heightened this phenomenon. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat & Twitter give us instant access to the best versions of other people’s lives.
Before you know it, what you thought was perfectly ok in your life is now a topic of concern. There have been moments where I was completely content with what I was doing – until I saw what someone else was doing.
But let’s cut to the chase. The root of FOMO and all-things related is comparison. We’re constantly comparing our current status to that of those around us. We use other people’s success – and failures – as a benchmark for our own achievements. Anxiety creeps in when we feel like we’re not matching up to others.
So how do we deal with this?
Once I understood that FOMO was really the result of comparison, I decided to stop looking at others for validation and I chose to stop questioning myself.
Someone else’s promotion, date night, birthday party, vacation, acceptance letter, girl’s night, game night, wedding, new car, new house and whatever else, is just that. Someone else’s. It’s not mine to envy. I realized that what I should have, I would have. Where I should be, I would be. And, what will be mine, will eventually find its way to me.
I realized that viewing others as a status quo was only adding more stress to my life. There’s no win in comparison. You’ll just keep comparing yourself to a new level of others and before you know it you’ll be comparing yourself to yourself and it all just goes down south from there. You’ll soon find that the more you try to fix FOMO by doing what everyone else is doing, the more you’ll realize that you’re not doing what you should be doing.
Now, of course, I still have moments where that annoying anxious feeling tiptoes in my mind. But in order to stop entertaining FOMO your contentment must be greater than your anxiety.
Focus on you. Be content with what you have going on. And, if you don’t like your current situation, change it. But change it because you want to change it. Let other people’s joy, fun and accomplishments do nothing more than inspire you to be the best version of you.
Adunola helps young professionals get more out of their careers and life. For more, visit employeeREDEFINED.com.