We live in a society dominated by social media and the online world. We are constantly bombarded with new ways to show off our lives and to view our friend’s, family’s and strangers’ lives. To put it into perspective, I have six different apps dedicated exclusively to social media on my phone right now. All of these apps give us an insider look into what people are doing, where they are going and what they were invited to, which gives us the feeling of being connected to people’s personal lives. It’s a double-edged sword though, since it also shows us what we could be doing and what we weren’t invited to, or what we didn’t even know about. This can lead to some serious fear of missing out, or FOMO.
FOMO is exasperated by college life. It seems like everyone is constantly doing something, and there’s always another event to go to. There are so many things happening every weekend and even though it would be impossible to go to all of them, we still want to try. I know that I have found myself feeling bad about not being invited to things I didn’t even want to go to in the first place, just because I am so afraid of missing out. In college, I have frequently felt like I was doing something wrong or that people didn’t like me enough if I didn’t have at least one plan for every weekend. Then, when I open one of my social media accounts, I am bombarded with videos of people dancing or singing a song at a bar, pictures of friends at a house party and any number of other fun weekend activities.
One day when I was going through a bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, I found a journal titled “JOMO Journal: The Joy of Missing Out.” I ended up buying the journal and I never really used it, but the concept stuck with me. Was there joy in missing out? I thought about it a bit more and did some self-reflection on why I was going out every weekend. I had a few big realizations: First, I realized that I didn’t like going out all the time and that things that I went to weren’t usually asfun when I got there. On top of that, I usually didn’t feel my best afterward. I also realized that I was tying my worth and how deserving of love I was to being invited to events, and that my worth was not defined by how many parties or how many bar outings I went to. Finally, I realized that I should be more okay with being alone and taking care of myself, and that no one needs to be around people all the time. Don’t get me wrong, community support is incredibly important, but learning to be able to exist independently is equally important. You are the only person who can always be there for yourself.
I don’t think you need to buy (and fail at using) a JOMO journal to find the joy in missing out. If you haven’t, I would encourage you to ask yourself why you’re feeling FOMO when you see people at an event? I would also encourage you to make time for yourself to be alone and learn to cherish those moments just as much as you cherish the moments with your friends. Maybe eventually you’ll be able to see that Instagram post, private Snapchat story or silly BeReal, and embrace the joy of being with yourself.