I am here to send out a PSA to all those suffering from FOMO and all those suffering because of the people who suffer from FOMO.
For those of you who do not know, FOMO stands for “Fear Of Missing Out.” A common occurrence in many friend groups, one of the most frequent cases is when someone suddenly finds out they were not invited to an event that their friends went to together, either through social media or word of mouth. Common symptoms include a sense of loneliness, betrayal, and/or insecurity, oh, and of course, passive aggression. It’s definitely not fun!
Now there are two very valid sides to this argument. The friend who gets left out could most definitely make the argument that not being invited could signify purposeful exclusion. The friend group could argue that true friends don’t always have to do EVERYTHING together, and that it sincerely wasn’t meant to exclude one person but rather bond more personally with the others in a less crowded setting.
In an ideal world, the group would sit down, have this discussion, and sort out this seemingly simple problem so that everyone could hang out with whoever they wanted, and no one would get their feelings hurt. And, as I will conclude later in this post, that is the answer!!!!! But it’s super hard.
FOMO stems from insecurity; from feeling not good enough or replaceable within your friend group. We all have a basis for feeling that way, our own personal past of friends who have broken our hearts. But it’s easy to forget that when one friend is passive aggressively bashing your head in or distancing themselves from you just because you hung out with someone else.
The solution, as always, is making an active effort to understand the other person’s side.
FOMO has always been a huge struggle for me. I’d experienced a lot of toxicity and abandonment in my friendships before I met my core group. And while one particularly bad experience woke me up to the value of having the right kind of people around you and having the ability to separate yourself from people who don’t make you feel valuable, the effects of those toxic friendships don’t just go away after you’ve found the right kind of people.
Even though I can honestly say I love myself and my friends, and I am completely aware that they always have the best intentions for me, I still struggle with feeling disposable, replaceable, and taken for granted when the smallest events occur, because that was the way I had been treated in the past.
I’m often described by my peers as extroverted and quick to make friends with strangers. But other than my core group that have been with me for years or have caught me at a vulnerable moment and stuck by me, I break those relationships just as quickly as I make them. At the first red flag in a friendship I immediately start detaching — slowly at first but quick in the end. It’s why I always ask about others and never talk about myself. Because sharing information about myself is allowing myself to be vulnerable which is equivalent to allowing myself to be hurt. You can’t get hurt if you don’t let them know you enough to hurt you, to make you feel that they saw you, understood who you were, and then chose someone else.
I am not the only one who feels this way.
Everyone’s had their share of toxic relationships, and the thing about toxicity is that it doesn’t end, even if the relationship does. It creeps in and makes someone lash out at the people who deserve it the least or distance themselves from people who care about them the most, in some sort of twisted defense mechanism. It is actually quite reasonable for your friends to just write you off as unreasonable and not the kind of friend they need in their life, because in their perspective, you are overreacting in an unnecessarily hurtful way.
Conversation is key. Patience is key. Open-mindedness is key.
When FOMO appears, two things must happen:
- The person suffering from FOMO must consciously understand and be willing to admit that it is their own insecurities that are coming into play and that they need to work on how to better express their feelings.
- The person on the receiving end, in turn, must give them the chance to do this and listen.
The worst thing either person can do is push the issues under the rug. You can’t hide feelings under there anymore than you could an elephant. By having an open discussion of how each other is feeling, you are dispelling the toxicity and proving wrong any past relationship that dashed at the sight of conflict.
As Jay Shetty says, “Before putting someone in their place, we need to put ourselves in their place.”
FOMO is real and shitty and awkward and hard — but it shouldn’t stop you from developing deeper relationships with people who might end up having your back for the rest of your life. All you have to do is be willing to get to that point.
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