The fear of missing out

Tea and newspaper It was mid-run, having raced around an 8.5k loop on my lunch break, via the store to grab some lunch, while thinking about the work for that afternoon, and panicking that I’d missed a friend’s birthday, and worrying that it has been an age since I went climbing, and slightly disappointed that I’d missed an early morning private view of a new exhibition, and thinking I ought to call my mum, that I was inspired to write this post.

I’m not sure when everything became so ludicrously hectic or when I started feeling quite so anxious that I needed to do everything, all of the time.

My room is filled with half read books, I don’t remember the last time I went for a swim, I’ve got friends I’ve not glimpsed for months and a list of exhibitions, movies and shows I need to get around to see, my diary is filling up into next year, and with the combination of work trips and a full work schedule I’ve not had chance to take any annual leave yet this year…and it’s now October.

And while I’m frantically trying to do everything I still feel like I’m missing out on something and starting to worry that I’m not really properly enjoying anything.

Reading Oliver Burkeman’s column in The Guardian this weekend made me realise I’m suffering with FOMO: fear of missing out. According to Burkeman, FOMO is a problem that’s always existed but is now exacerbated by technology and social media: in his words ‘we’ve never been so aware of what others are doing, and we aren’t’. Yes I want to read the latest books, try the newest fitness craze or run in every race my friends do, see the latest movies, visit the newest cafés, or try the latest cocktails, but how much is my sense of urgency to do this now inspired by the fact that it seems like it’s what everyone else is doing and I just don’t want to miss out?

Running counter to this, Burkeman supports the theory if JOMO: the joy of missing out. This is the decision to accept and actively embrace the decision to skip some activities. Yes, there are always going to be a limitless number of interesting, cool and meaningful things that we’re not doing, but feeling bad for not doing them is ‘like beating yourself up for not being able to count to infinity’.

So today I’m slowing down. I’ve called my parents, read the paper, I may see an exhibition this afternoon and go climbing, I may not. But either way I’m going to relish my day.

As Burkeman says: have a good weekend – and enjoy all of the ones you’re not having too.

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2 thoughts on “The fear of missing out

  1. This is SO me! I constantly have this long list of box sets to watch/buy, hobbies to do, running groups to join, etc and I always feel bad every week when I don’t go to them. I have to realise that I can’t do everything and just enjoy what I do do! Louise x

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