My Story: Living With FOMO

I’ve had it since I was a child. I hated taking naps. I hated being the last to finish my lunch in the cafeteria. I hated going to bed while all of the adults stayed up late chatting in the kitchen. I just KNEW I would be missing something. What exactly, I don’t know; but it just ate me up that it could be something good. Fast forward many years and much hasn’t changed. I take the term “opportunity cost” to a whole new level when I’m making decisions, often weighing options based on imaginary situations beyond the average person’s reasonable expectations.

I know it feels like you have all these options and when you make a decision, you lose a world of possibilities. But the reality is, until you make a decision, you have nothing at all. - Janet Fitch

I first heard of FOMO a few months ago, while walking downtown with a fellow colleague. We were discussing our anxiety about missing out on something when she sighed and mumbled, “FOMO.”

“What?” I asked

“FOMO,” she repeats. “Fear of missing out.”

Wow. Is that what I’ve had all this time? Nobody felt it was necessary to diagnose me at any point over the last 24 years? I mean, seriously... where was the vaccine when I was 6?

After the initial shock, I figured well at least I finally know what I am working with here. But then I started to wonder if this is a good or bad character trait. Could I simply chalk it up to my A-type personality and brush my shoulders off? So, in true Nikita style I did a [qualitative] cost-benefit analysis to living with FOMO. For your reading pleasure:

Downsides to FOMO

  • Experiencing anxiety or frustration about missing something that the average person would not experience (i.e. being upset that you can't be two places at one time)
  • Inability to disconnect when on vacation, whether it’s for work or personal endeavors (i.e. regularly writing blog posts in a notebook during a three week vacation. That wasn’t me of course. Not at all.)
  • Never feeling like you’re doing enough to accomplish your goals (i.e. unhealthy worrying: Did I do enough research on that topic? Am I mentoring enough teenagers?)

Benefits of FOMO

  • Often being at the right place at the right time
  • Consistently being prepared for opportunities (We talked about this, remember?)
  • Regularly meeting new people, learning about what’s going on, and being aware of upcoming opportunities
  • Winning. In life. Period. (Or so I’d like to think.)

The conclusion? Living with FOMO is possible. I promise that there’s no need for you to consult your physician or set up an appointment with your psychotherapist. Acknowledging that you are living with FOMO is the first step to healing. Recognizing that it is an integral part of who you are is step two and essential to avoiding any undue stress FOMO may cause.

Unfortunately, that’s where my advice ends. There are no FOMO self-help programs, and I’ve only discovered two steps so far. However, I am sure someone will come up with a ridiculous eBook or 12 step program to sell to you in the future.

Now enough about me, tell me about you. How is your life affected by FOMO, if at all? Is it a part of your character that you have embraced or are you working on your own 12 step program?