We moved to France when I was seven. My parents had signed on to become lifetime missionaries and I was along for the ride. There were moments I definitely wanted to get off that missionary kid ride, and other moments when I wouldn’t trade the thrill of it for anything.
But every October 31st that we spent in France I counted as my own personal Suffering For The Lord. I was old enough to know that back in California, kids my age were wearing costumes and collecting gobs of candy from their neighbors. It was with great disappointment that I realized that people in our new country didn’t celebrate Halloween.
I thought with longing about all the American candy I missed so much: Butterfingers, Reeses, Hershey’s, Twizzlers, Starbursts. None of it available in French stores.
Looking back, it seems ridiculous that I focused so much energy into missing what I didn’t have, instead of appreciating all the good that I did have.
After all, France is the land of gourmet chocolate, delectable pastries, and Haribo gummies of all shapes and sizes. But I didn’t know to savor it all until I moved back to the States and lost access to it.
My Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on Halloween reminds me of my fear of missing out on social media. Last week, I wrote about ways we can monitor our own use of social media so that we don’t get caught up in feelings of jealousy, comparison, and low self-worth. But as I reflected on my own use, I identified a different problem: the constant pressure I put on myself to create good and helpful content. The second I hit “publish,” I feel a rising sense of anxiety about what to post next. Upon further reflection, I realized that this pressure and anxiety is taking up far too much brain space and is leaving me exhausted.
When I think about taking a break from social media, or quitting altogether, an anxiety centered around FOMO rises up in its place. What opportunities will I miss out on if I disappear online? What collaborations will I be left out of? What inspiration will slip by me?
The Joy of Missing Out
The only way I’ve found to combat FOMO is JOMO. Instead of focusing on my fear of missing out, I’m going to focus on the joy of missing out. For the next two months, I’ll be unplugging from social media and focusing that energy into what brings me joy. For me, it’s reading good books, spending time with real-life friends, and being more present in the moment. It’s letting myself be bored and giving my mind the freedom to wander instead of grabbing my phone. I’ll still be writing for this website once a week and sending out my twice a month newsletter, but you won’t see me around on Facebook or Instagram for the rest of the year.
How to combat the Fear of Missing Out
You can combat your own fear of missing out by claiming the joy of it. A simple shift in thinking is all it takes:
Instead of focusing on what you’re missing, focus on what you’re gaining.
When you shift your attention to the goodness that’s right in front of you, the rest will fade away. You will be free to pour into your right-now moments instead of wishing for something different…. whether that’s in terms of junk food, social media, or whatever you’re facing!