Everyone likes to feel included. It’s fun hanging out with friends whether you’re going out or just doing nothing together. Having that companionship can be fulfilling. So it’s understandable that when we see our friends hanging out and having fun without us, we get jealous. We begin to stalk our friends on social media. What are they doing? Where are they? And most importantly, why didn’t they invite me? Welcome to FOMO, or “fear of missing out”.
Fear of missing out can plague anyone from kids to adults, though I’ve noticed that if the person has access to social media, FOMO can become a real problem. I’ve seen people stalk their friends to see where they were, and who they were with. People can become so consumed with being left out that it affects, and sometimes ruins friendships.
So, why do we have a fear of missing out? It likely started on the playground. Let’s be honest, girls can be mean. We’ve all been the outcast at one time or another growing up. We watch as our “friends” play, wondering what is “wrong with me?”. Or “why don’t they like me?”. As we grow, – middle school, high school – it gets worse. By the time adulthood comes around, many of us don’t know what a healthy friendship looks like.
I’ve done a little experiment with FOMO. With the few people I’ve interviewed, all with varying degrees of FOMO, this is what I’ve found:
People who suffer from FOMO a great deal tend to have low self-esteem. These are people who don’t know what they have to offer. They don’t see themselves clearly. They assume that they aren’t liked, or that they’ve done something wrong – why else would someone not invite them? They dwell on this so much that it can ruin their entire day. They may cry about it. They may yell at their friends about it. They don’t believe they are worthy, so they assume their friends feel the same way.
People who suffer from FOMO a great deal may not have healthy friendships. If you are concerned about your friends talking negatively about you in your absence, perhaps you should evaluate those friendships. Chances are you’ve heard those friends say awful things about a mutual friend – a conversation you may have even participated in. But the flip side of that coin, when you are the subject, suddenly it seems so harsh. Allow me to gently say if you’re friends with someone who puts other friends down, they are likely doing it to you too. And somewhere in your heart, you know that – hence the FOMO.
It’s human nature. It’s only natural to have FOMO to some degree. Of course, we want to be included. Just keep it in check.
So, how do we get over FOMO?
Remember who you are. Who are you? You are a daughter of the one true KING. The creator of the universe loves you! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! There is no reason you should ever doubt your importance or your value. So what if you weren’t invited to some event? You can still do something great and fun!
Don’t count on others to have a good time. This is your job, love! If you feel like doing something, call a friend and make it happen.
Step away from Facebook. Stop. Just stop. You’re better than that. Be happy that your friends are having fun – we only want what’s best for them, right? Again, make your own fun happen.
Assume good intentions. We don’t always know the full story. Perhaps two of your friends had a disagreement, so they got together to work it out. Maybe they hadn’t spent time together in a while and needed some one on one time. This is hard but here it goes, not everything is about us. Yikes. That’s tough, right? Tough, but true. It likely didn’t occur to your friends that your feelings were hurt by not being invited because it wasn’t about you. It may have been something between them.
You do it too. Wait, what? That’s right. From the time we were twelve years old and our moms said you can only have five people spend the night for your sleepover, until now when we know we can only fit four other people in our car, we can’t always include everyone. Let me ask you something: when you’re hanging out with just a couple of friends, does it mean you don’t like your other friends? Of course not! And to think their feelings would be hurt for not being included in something you planned would make you feel horrible. Assume they feel the same way you do. They still love you!
When I was younger, FOMO was a big part of my life. Now, I get a kick of seeing my friends’ pictures of their fun without me. I laugh, comment, and “heart” everything. And I genuinely love it! Mostly because I’m chilling in my sweatpants and didn’t have to go anywhere. (My favorite!) But also because I love them and want them to enjoy life with me, and without me. That is what love is – wanting what’s best for them regardless of your role. It also helps to know I have an amazing “tribe”. My girls have my back ALWAYS. They aren’t bad mouthing me, and they want the very best for me. There is great peace in having such amazing friends.
FOMO can really be a struggle. I challenge you to dig in deep. Where do you stand with FOMO? How can you improve this? How can letting it go help your relationships with your friends? You’re an amazing woman – own it! You don’t need to be involved in absolutely everything to feel important or valuable. Remember who you are in Christ.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:15-16a