Ever since I can remember I have suffered from FOMO ( Fear of missing out). I never really knew why it was so important to me to be like everyone else and have a similar existence, but I feared if I didn’t then I would regret it. I remember in high school it was particularly strong. I had a fear of missing out on homecoming and prom, even though I had no interest in either and I actually wish I hadn’t worried so much about being in attendance. That fear made me dismiss my thought of becoming an exchange student my junior year in high school, because I’d be missing out on the typical American high school life experiences.
Looking back I think I missed out on more by sticking around and being like everyone else than if I had just taken the plunge. I think about all the times FOMO has held me back from doing things or paralyzed me from moving forward in my life. It even trickles down to the most mundane. I should leave my Saturdays open in case my friends want to spend time with me. There were a million other things I wanted to do, but instead I would sit and wait to hang out with people in fear if I did something I’d miss out on it. The truth is in many ways I will always be missing out on something in life. I can’t be present all the time when people want me to be. I have a life and things I want to do.
As independent as I am, I’m glad that the clutches of FOMO are slowly loosening in my thirties. It has taken a long time for me to come to peace with the fact that I will always be missing out on something. My life isn’t the same as others, so I will miss out on those experiences until they come into my life. Which means I can only be supportive of people whether in happiness or sadness, until I experience the same and can truly relate, at that point I will judge was I missing out? I’ve always lived away from my friends since I left college. Nobody I am close to is very close by, which makes it hard to meet up and talk about life. In many ways I realized I have missed large chunks of my friends’ lives and although I’m fearful of not being there for the big and small events in their lives, it is beyond my control. Even if I fear missing out on being there for them, I have to continue to live my own life and realize that my friends and family probably have their own fears of missing out on things in the lives of others.
FOMO has me realizing that when I lived overseas I was missing out on all the things back home, and would I regret it? Living back home has me realizing I have FOMO over whether or not I’m missing out on things back in Korea since I left. In life, I can’t always be where I want to be and I will have mixed emotions about events or experiences I missed, yet I will also know I will be thankful for the experiences and events I have had thanks to being in a different place. FOMO seems to hit harder thanks to the ever omnipresent social media lives everyone leads nowadays. I’ll always feel like I missed out on something, but so far I think I’ve led the life I am supposed to have. It isn’t perfect, I’ve missed a lot and I most likely will continue to miss much more.
Looking back at my younger self and I wonder what I would have done if FOMO hadn’t taken control of my life in my teens and twenties. Would I have traveled more? Been more independent? Taken new classes? Met different people? I suppose I can’t rewrite those chapters of life, I can only start sketching an outline for the present. I still suffer from FOMO from time to time and I wonder what I’m missing when I see my friends doing things. I wonder if I’m missing out on life, by not living near them, or by not being in a relationship or having kids. Am I missing out on all of these experiences? Will it matter if I experience it later? Does anyone look at my life and feel like they are missing out as well?