Suffer from fear of missing out? Just say ‘No’
By Melissa Stefanec
In our hyperconnected world, fear of missing out (FOMO) has become a very real thing. Anyone who spends time on social media or online shopping sites is smacked in the face with FOMO.
When we scroll through our phones, we are greeted with a barrage of experiences and things people just like us are doing and buying. If our social media feeds are any indicator, there are at least a dozen amazing things we should be doing or buying this very second.
When we are inundated with this information, it’s easy to feel like our experiences and possessions pale in comparison to, well, everybody else’s.
The thing is, FOMO makes us do or buy things we may not really be interested in, have the time for or have the money for. If we let FOMO get the better of us, we are bound to feel emotionally and financially drained.
In many cases, FOMO has robbed us of the ability to differentiate between what we want to do and buy and what we think we should or buy. FOMO is a well-disguised thief, but we are enabling it.
So, with a new year upon us, here is my advice on how to get the upper hand on FOMO.
The first step is recognition. It’s time people reclaimed their self-preservation and bank accounts from FOMO’s clutches. Here is a list of things and experiences that you aren’t missing out on. Sure, some people are doing these things, but not nearly as much as social media feeds and online influencers are leading us to believe.
Going to every party
Most people aren’t posting pictures of themselves while wearing sweatpants, eating cheesy poofs and plopped in front of the TV. You may fear if you don’t say yes to every party invite, you are missing out. However, if you pay attention, there are people missing parties all the time. They just aren’t raving about missing parties and posting pics of themselves slouched over a book studying.
Joining every club
In a time when resume building is one of the main focuses of your life, it can seem counterintuitive to turn down extra-curricular activities. However, joining too many clubs or taking on too much in the ones you are in can drain your brain and your body. Be smart about where you spend your time. Most people aren’t saying yes to every opportunity, and those who are end up regretting it.
Buying name-brand everything
There are those people in our real lives and on social media who are totally hung up on labels. Brands are important to a lot of people, and we all have our favorites, but don’t let FOMO make you buy stuff you can’t afford or don’t really like. Alternatively, don’t let it keep you buying something you want or need, just because it isn’t a big brand.
For those people with means, studying abroad is a great opportunity. However, you shouldn’t let FOMO make you do something you can’t afford. Taking on massive loans or driving up your debt for a two-week experience abroad isn’t wise. If you miss out on this one, the financial security will go a lot farther than the tiny bump in resume ratings.
Taking non-parent-funded vacations
Lots people post pics from their awesome vacations, but no one tells you who the funding source is for their good time. Chances are, people who take a lot of vacations are having their ways paid by their parents. Others are racking up crazy credit card debt. Don’t let FOMO make you spend money on a vacation you can’t afford.
Buying high-end makeup
Don’t feel bad if you have to buy your makeup from a drugstore. Chances are, most of your peers are doing the very same thing. People may carry on about how awesome their $40 mascara is, but it was probably a Christmas or birthday present and not something they get to have all of time. Don’t feel like you need to keep up with them.
Buying a new car after graduation
It may seem like a lot of people are treating themselves to a new car after graduation, but they aren’t. Dealerships offer incentives in early summer hoping to persuade you that you need a new car, but most recent grads can’t afford one. Most people aren’t posting pictures of their rusty, late model, dented college cars right after graduation. So don’t let FOMO bring you out of line with reality.
Eating out all of the time
If your bank account, waistline or energy levels are telling you eating out is a bad idea, listen to them. Sure, eating out is fun, but it’s not good for your budget or health when you do it all the time. It’s OK to say no to dining out every once in a while.
Working out every day
Exercise does a lot of amazing things for your body and mind, but don’t feel obligated to overdo it. Sure, some of your friend’s Instagram feeds may make you feel like they are lifting weights and doing hot yoga almost every day, but the reality is, most of them aren’t. Don’t beat yourself up if you can only exercise three times a week. That’s what many people are actually doing.
Eating healthy every day
There are always those handful of social media friends who would make you think they eat kale salads and protein smoothies for every meal. Most of them don’t, but people often want to project a certain image. In the case of your health food connections, it’s an image of self-control and constant discipline. Those people aren’t posting the wrappers of the 20 mini snickers bars they ate at midnight when their stomach was rumbling.
Getting the season’s hottest new phone
Most people aren’t telling you to check out their three-year-old phone or a hand-me-down phone from their parents. People aren’t calling attention to their phone with a cracked screen. The only people showing off their phones are those with hot, new phones. So, it’s easy to feel like everyone has one.
Saying yes to every request
It may seem like saying no to an opportunity is a bad choice, but saying yes to everything is exhausting. Don’t spread yourself too thin just because you are afraid to say no. Focus on a few things and do them well. Saying yes to everything and doing them poorly or with mediocrity won’t put you ahead of your peers. It will leave you tired and behind. Tell FOMO you deserve better.