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  • Writer's pictureCaylie Poola

How I Handle FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

FOMO. We've all had it, and if you think you haven't -- you're probably wrong.

But it's ok. I will shamelessly admit to being a victim of FOMO for most of my teenage years. And honestly, most of the time, it pushed me to say yes on days I wanted to just lay in bed and stay home with a pint of Halo Top. Or days when I needed a break and should have put my self-care and mental health first. I literally couldn't deal with the thought of having to watch snapchat stories or see social media posts of my friends looking like they were having fun *without me* -- I wanted to believe that everyone would simultaneously combust if I wasn't available to hangout, and nothing was fun if I wasn't around for it. I also never wanted to believe that there were times that (although nothing personal) I may simply not been wanted or included, for whatever reason.

I dealt with this for so long, and it only got harder. When I arrived to college in 2018, and was incredibly homesick, my adjustment was only made more difficult by comparing my nights to what it looked like my friends, or even strangers, were doing. I was taking everything *way* too personal, and it wasn't doing me any favors.

When COVID brought me back home from college in March of 2020, I felt myself figuratively and quite literally, take a deep breath. No one was leaving their houses, hanging out, partying, going to the gym, hustling (nearly as much), I mean it was like the competition I had placed myself in with the rest of the world was tied. During this time, I re-evaluated my priorities, rediscovered my love for myself, my health, wellness, spending time alone, having real, genuine conversations with family and friends. And now, as the world slowly begins to return to *some* normalcy, I have continued to keep the habits I formed in quarantine, and no longer deal with FOMO in the ways I used to.

Here's How:

I took care of my mind and my body, implemented healthy habits and saw results.

By putting my wellness first, I found that I was a happier, more productive and positive person. A better friend, daughter, student. Finding so much joy in taking care of myself has made it easier, and tempting to say no to things that won't benefit me or that I simply just don't want to do. I value my routine and am more selective about what I choose to incorporate into my days.

I stopped maintaining 5+ snapchat streaks.

And turned my snapchat notifications off.

For most of my teenage years, I probably had 10+ snapchat streaks at a time. I also would snapchat random people, that I didn't even know personally. The time and energy that takes is unnecessary. On one hand, I love snapchat because it keeps me in contact with friends from home who otherwise I may not talk to as frequently, but, mindlessly sending pictures back and forth wasn't good for my FOMO. By default I was seeing what everyone else was doing, and automatically comparing myself to what I saw. I also found that snapping someone and having a great conversation and then going on with my week is much more fulfilling then trying to "keep the streak". I also enjoy sharing snap's to my close friends circle using a private story feature, it feels so much more personal and I feel less pressure to snapchat everyone individually that way.

I found hobbies that I could do alone.

For awhile I would look at boredom, or having no plans, as if it was some type of punishment, thinking being social or spending money was the only way I could truly feel fulfilled. This made it difficult when I was left out of plans, or simply had no one to hangout with. I started reading and journaling for fun. Writing not just because I am a journalism student, but because I had something to say. I discovered my passion for plant based baking, and practicing overall wellness. Finding hobbies you can do alone doesn't mean you always have to do them alone, it just means you don't depend or rely on anyone to feel content. Its empowering.

It's ok to not have 1000 best friends.

Maintaining strong friendships is extremely rewarding, but it is a challenging commitment at times. When I graduated high school, I felt a pressure to continue all of my close relationships, at the same capacity they were at in high school. And to tell you the truth, it's just not possible. Am I still friends with SO many of the people I have met throughout college and high school? Absolutely. But do I feel guilty if I don't FaceTime, text and snapchat everyone all the time? Not at all. Now, the friends I do have, are healthy because there is less pressure on them. When I catch up with a friend, its exciting. When I stopped feeling compelled to check in on everyone in my contact list - 24/7, I saw who I naturally had in my life, who I missed, and the kind of friend I want to be. I became more genuine with my interactions and purposeful with who I spent time talking or hanging out with.

Less comparison = less FOMO.

The bottom line is, FOMO is always going to exist. We're human, we care. And sometimes, we care deeply or just too much. But that's how it's supposed to be. Its ok to miss people, or wish you were there sometimes, but understanding that he grass isn't always greener and its ok -- even nice, to not be constantly available at all times is how you really combat FOMO for good. I don't think I'll ever have the cheat code for FOMO, but the older I get, the less I give a f*ck about what everyone else is doing and the more I care about what I'm doing with my own life.

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