FOMO. Otherwise known as, the Fear Of Missing Out. You know it. That aching, paranoid fear that creeps in when you realize while you’re at home, Netflixing and feasting on yesterday’s pizza, everyone you know is going out… and they’re together. “Are All of My Friends Getting Together Without Me?” is not only a real thing… but it’s also really happening.
The concept of “NOMO FOMO” is something I’ve been wrestling with for quite a while now. As a 26 year old, newly-fledged adult woman, I am learning the art of balance. The art of jealousy versus apathy, indulgence versus restraint, being emotionally dependent versus being emotionally unavailable. The balance between wanting to be needed and the fear of being needy.
Some days, I’m completely independent and the Facebook post of my girlfriends’ staycation weekend at some balmy, tropical resort doesn’t phase me. Other days, running into a group of friends at the local mall inspires this sweaty palm, throat catching, heart stabby feeling that has me instantly caught between the desire to accuse them for not inviting me, or run for the nearest exit in the opposite direction. Anything to escape the sound of camaraderie, laughter, and them not missing me.
Nothing quite prepares you for the blow of seeing your bestfriend do bestfriendy things on IG with someone that is so obviously not you. What am I, 13 again? Why should I care? Yet, I so totally do.
And, so what if I do?
I think that we’re set up for it really. Most human beings are somewhat territorial. Even from a young age we’re taught to stay in our own space, keep our hands to ourselves, and not take without asking.
We’re taught the concept of the “favorite” and the “best.” What’s your favorite drink? Drink that. Where’s your favorite place? Spend your time there. Who’s your favorite person? Spend yourself on them. Your favorite thing is the best thing. Naturally. That’s why it’s your favorite. Why they’re your favorite.
A huge part of the disappointment felt due to exclusion is the feeling that somehow, you didn’t quite make the cut. That you’re not good enough to make the A-List. Not memorable enough to stand out amongst the crowd. Not valued enough to be chosen.
If there’s one malady across the board our generation suffers from, it’s the distorted self-image.
Though I struggle, one scrupulous step at a time, I’m beginning to learn that the problem of FOMO has very little do with others and very much to do with me. The issue isn’t so much the unextended invitation, as it is the overwhelming tendency toward the dependency of needing one. Freedom from FOMO starts with a healthy self image.
A healthy self image can only come from a healthy understanding of who you are and where your worth is determined. The sacrifice of Christ, the price of his life, says I am of great value… Even when I’m not always greatly valued.
I am worth the same in a room all by myself as when I’m smack dab, center of attention; the focus of adoration, and the object of all the world’s affection. My value doesn’t change according to demand. I have not become a clearance item simply because I am not currently flavor of the week, and baby, neither are you.
Say no mo’ to FOMO. Wherever you are, be there. Embrace your place. Eat your pizza. Rock the heck out of being alone. Alone isn’t the same thing as being lonely, you know. And if you are lonely… know this. You are also lovely. You’re an A-lister, with front row seats to the rest of your life. (And, every episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, ever, because, thanks Netflix!)
Even if Johnny, Sally and Dan are sipping double, non-fat, almond milk macchiatos without you, take solace in the fact that this is not the only time. This is not the last time. This is simply this time. And this time, you’re not there.
And, that’s okay.
12/7/16 update: I think I may have overcorrected. I currently dread invitations anywhere… and all my fellow hermit friends say amen.