How 'FOMO' Is Totally Ruining Our Lives

FOMO. Lately I see that term floating around just about everywhere, and every time I see it, I can't help but roll my eyes a little. And just in case you aren't quite sure what FOMO stands for, I'll clue you in. FOMO = Fear of Missing Out.

You know ... fear of missing out on all this super cool stuff that other people are doing/enjoying while you're sitting at home bored, miserable, indifferent, sad, down-in-the-dumps, resentful, jealous, melancholy, angry, annoyed, insert-any-other-negative-term-here.

Coming down with a major case of FOMO happens to all of us on occasion, and I'm not ashamed to admit that it's happened to me too. It's no big secret that my divorce was not an overnight decision, but something I had thought about and knew was going to happen for years before I finally made the jump and ended things.

And I'm often asked why I chose to stay for so long when I knew things were probably never going to work out in the long run. While there are several reasons that make up the answer to this question, I recently realized that FOMO played a major part in why I opted to remain in a situation I knew wasn't right for me. Yep. Fear of missing out. Fear that the pretty picture that had always been in my head of how my life was going to look 10, 20, or even 30 years down the road would somehow become reality -- and if I left and started over from scratch, there would be this big, grandiose party-of-a-carefree-perfect-life that I'd be missing out on. Well, that coupled with fear of the unknown. Fear that my new life wouldn't be as "comfortable" as my old one. Wow. FOMO almost stopped me from allowing myself to be ... me.

But I'm certainly not the only one who is a total slave to FOMO. I see so many other people clinging to things that are not meant for them simply because they're afraid that "what comes next" might not measure up to what "could be" if they hang around for a little bit longer. FOMO is sneaky like that. Just when we're on the brink of making a much needed change, FOMO pipes up and asks questions like:

"What if I finally get that big promotion I've been dreaming of for 10 years?"

"What if he/she changes and turns into the dream guy/gal I know he/she can be?"

"What if I wind up single forever? At least now I have somebody to come home to at night."

"What if my new business doesn't succeed, and I left a job I at least knew was stable?"

"What if we hit the lottery tomorrow and all of our problems magically go away and neither one of us ever has to work again and we can sail off into the sunset on a big fat yacht?"

Ok, so that last one is a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. FOMO is one heck of a buzz kill for so many people -- and it's time that we stop letting it win.

You know what? Why don't we go ahead and be ok with still having FOMO in our lives, but from now on, we think of it as "Freedom of Moving On" as opposed to "Fear of Missing Out." Did you hear that? I said MOVING ON. Freedom of going forward instead of walking in circles "just in case" there's some big miracle that changes our situation. Freedom to pursue whatever we want in life with whomever we want to pursue it with. Freedom to walk away from anything negative or toxic that's putting a damper on our wellbeing. Freedom to take risks, even if they don't turn out the way we want them to. Freedom to at least give the whole being blissfully happy thing a fighting chance at actually happening.

Yeah. FOMO can actually be a positive thing, but have to change our perspective and stop hanging onto things that may or may not be ideal for us in the long run. And honestly, if you even have to stop and question whether something in your life is the right fit -- odds are good that you already know deep down in your gut that it probably isn't.

On that note, I'm officially kicking Fear of Missing Out to the curb and hopping on the Freedom of Moving On bandwagon.

Who's with me?


About: Mary Hawkins
Mary J. Hawkins is an accomplished editor, writer, and social media enthusiast who has been working in the digital media space since 2009. In a former life, she was the author and owner of The Mommyologist, a humor blog centered around the changes that happen after kids arrive on the scene. She is currently the full-time Senior Editor of Audience Development for CafeMom, and has been a part of their team for the past 5 years.  Mary also recently launched a lifestyle and travel blog called “Catching the Next Wave,” which centers around the new phase of life she’s navigating as a recently divorced single mom of one charismatic 10-year-old and a pint-sized Shih-Tzu.  When she manages to find time to detach herself from her laptop, Mary leads an active lifestyle. She has a strong passion for travel and welcomes every opportunity to explore new places and experience new adventures. She is also a huge fan of Pilates and Yoga – though she doesn’t get to class quite as often as she’d like.  Mary lives in a small town in the middle of Connecticut, though she’d rather live in the city, on the coast, or a combination of both.