What are you missing out on?
I was sitting at my desk yesterday afternoon slogging away on a story that wasn't flowing properly when my phone gave its familiar *beep beep*.
A pxt popped up on my screen of two of my friends sitting in the sun, laughing, a glass of wine in hand.
As I sighed and glanced at my pasty legs hidden under the desk, a pang of anxiety struck me.
They were having a great time - without me.
What I was suffering from was a massive dose of FOMO - having a "Fear Of Missing Out".
It's an overwhelming worry that if you're not at that party, meeting or after-work drink, you're missing out on something more exciting, more worthwhile than what you're presently doing.
But while the acronym is irritating, it's actually a genuine thing that a lot of people struggle with.
In our modern lifestyles, we have an overwhelming choice of potential activities. There's not just one other option that we may be missing out on, but multiple alternatives. I could go to a yoga class, a movie, a night cooking class - the choices are endless.
In wider terms, I could pursue my career, get married and have a baby, or head off on an OE.
FOMO is that feeling of anxiety, regret and dissatisfaction when you think that you've somehow picked ( or been forced into) the wrong option and you're missing out on something better. For many people, FOMO becomes a constant gnawing anxiety that they're not making the most of their daily lives.
Social media, as usual, has a lot to answer for. Now what you're missing out on is shoved right in your face, fuelling the FOMO fire. (Of course, most of what happens online is wildly exaggerated to scream "Look at me, I'm having such a great time!").
I often suffer from this feeling.
Every second week I work a late shift (1pm til 9pm) so most social activities are beyond my reach. I constantly have to turn down invitations - pub quizzes, dinners, movies - and then sit at work knowing my friends are enjoying themselves without me.
The next week, when I'm on an early shift, I try to accept as many invitations as possible but I also need some down time or face a major burnout.
It can be stressful creating a balance of rest and play, while managing to keep your FOMO under control. Sometimes I have to take a deep breath remind myself that it's perfectly legitimate to just want to sit in the sun and read my book or have a night in with EK rather than heading out with friends.
FOMO is a negative, unhelpful emotion. Instead of stressing over what we're missing out on, we need to focus on living in the present and enjoying what we are actually doing.