A few weeks ago when my very dear friends Kell & Britt came out to San Francisco for a much needed east coast meets west coast visit, the subject of friendships and social lives came up in one of our many wine fueled girly chats (good grief I live for girly chats). I attempted to explain both my current struggles in balancing/maximizing play time/rest time and my increasingly difficult relationship with one friend in particular, whom I've felt a bit used by as of late. To summarize; it's become more and more apparent that this person may be more interested in the social circles I can open for them, than a friendship with me specifically. This changing dynamic between us has lead to my increased sensitivity to all things socially related. Even at 28 (almost 29!) years young, I fully admit I still get hurt over feeling excluded...especially because I work so hard to connect others and make them feel included. In fact, I'd say that's a large part of my pays-the-bills job at Weebly: working to make folks feel positively connected. So, when the efforts are not reciprocated, my spirit doesn't feel very big.
"Yea...totally...I'm with you", Britt said. "We have major FOMO."
"Um...excuse me? FOMO?" I replied, "Should I be offended right now?"
Britt (laughing): "No no...FOMO! Fear Of Missing Out!"
After I got over the fact I'm finally old enough to not be hip with the kid's lingo anymore (I'm still wrapping my head around YOLO), I let this term switch on a major light bulb.
I realized I've been feeling some major FOMO lately coming at me from multiple directions. I see my east coast friends continuing to be amazing and loving and successful and a part of me aches to be with them; to share in their joys and journeys first hand. In addition to that, when you live in a bad ass city like SF (or in Britt's case, NYC), the mini corner-of-the-world you inhabit is truly your oyster. At any given time there are probably dozens of appealing activities happening at once; these places are a foodies, dancers, hipsters, music/culture/festival/art-lovers heaven and it's hard not to get sucked (or pressured) into a 24/7 social scene. And finally, my relationship with B has continued to grow and flourish in ways that make me deeply wish we were together more often to share in day-to-day life.
I have a feeling I'm not alone in this occasional insecurity. Social media makes it 10x harder to fight FOMO, amirite? It's an odd challenge our generation is faced with. One scroll of a news feed can yield a seemingly endless supply of coulda/shoulda/woulda/what about me? (you can read my thoughts on that here). So how do we make peace with having to balance it all? How do we not let this (#whitegirlproblem) overwhelm us to the point it takes away from all the good we are blessed with being surrounded by?
I came up with a few suggestions on how to move past FOMO:
1. Don't take anything personally. Honey--the world keeps on spinning no matter how you choose to spend your time, or who might offend you with their choices...so be lighter. Observe your/their behavior without judgement and then just keep living your life. Hardly anything truly is as it seems from the outside.
2. Be Present. The more time you spend thinking you should be/could be/need to be elsewhere (or stressing over what-comes-next) the more you are going to miss out on the joys surrounding you in the present moment, which is the only time we are ever guaranteed. While practicing being present, you can also try to.....
3. Give thanks for where you are, what you have, and who you're with. Shift your perspective from scarcity thinking to abundance and gratitude thinking. It will only serve to lighten your heart and bring in more people/things/adventures to be thankful for. The more you practice this, the easier it will become to take notice of your (ordinary to extraordinary) blessings.
4. Don't compare yourself to others. I posted a quote a few days ago about this and I want to repeat it again, now; Comparison is the death of happiness. Stop peering over your neighbors life fence, pining for their perceived greener grass and instead get to tending your own dang garden; dig deep, sweat, pour love into what you have...feel the sunshine on your face or the rain falling to your feet while you're at it. I love what B said last week about having an attitude worth helping--you are a unique, powerful being who is worthy of good. Own this! Get moving! Your corner of the Universe will bloom in ways you never imagined if you stop comparing yourself to others and simply embrace what you have and stop fighting your own natural growth.
5. There is a difference between fitting in and belonging, which is actually what we crave as humans during a FOMO moment. Brene Brown says it perfectly: "Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it."
Don't forget you belong to yourself, first and foremost...(and you will always be enough).