We’ve all seen some form of them in our lives. They dominate social media, they assault us in advertisements, and wind their way into conversations with friends and family. It’s so deeply ingrained in our culture that we don’t even realize what’s happening until it’s over.
It’s the fear of missing out. Recently rebranded in social media using its acronym FOMO, the concept has had an increasing presence in our conversations in the last few years. We see it most clearly in social media posts.
“Check out these pics from the concert last night!”
“Can’t wait to spend the weekend at the beach with my best friend!”
“Relaxing lunch on the back porch enjoying the weather.”
“My daughter’s birthday party was perfect!”
We wish we were those people. We see them appearing to have fun and enjoying life to the fullest. Of course, we also know that what we see online is heavily curated and only one tiny slice of reality.
Generations of us have experienced similar. Prior to social media, we saw it on TV shows and commercials. “Buy our product, or you’re missing out on something great!” Even before TV, it was in books and magazines. “Don’t miss out on the newest styles!” And why would you want to miss out, when all of these things look and sound so enticing?
But who has the time, resources, or energy for all that? We find ourselves pushed and pulled between the fear of missing something wonderful, and the unavoidable limitations in our lives. We simply can’t always afford that amazing beach weekend, or we may not have resources to plan the “perfect” birthday party for our child.
What about the alternative? When we make a choice to do one thing, we make a choice to not do another. So maybe you missed out on that beach trip with your friends. What did you do instead? How did you spend that time and money? Maybe you chose to make sure you could pay the next month’s car loan without stress. Or maybe you got to treat yourself to something else fun.
Sometimes we get so caught up with what we’re not doing that we lose sight of what we are doing. Consider the meaning behind the choices you make. Sure, you might be missing out on one thing, but that leaves room for something else.
Take a moment to think about the decisions you’ve made in your life. Now think about what you sacrificed for those decisions. Each choice opens us to grieve the loss of the other option. Fortunately, it also leaves room to celebrate what we did choose.