FOMO is a Real Thing and I have it!

I’m not sure if the Kardashian clan coined the term or just popularized it’s use but either way I still have an incurable case. It turns out that I got it from my momma just like my hate of winter driving and love of gardening. Maybe I passed it on to her though we’ll never know for sure. FOMO or fear of missing out is a first world problem characterized my existential angst brought on by not participating in something someone else has. It could be a race (*raises hand), taking a particular selfie or attending a party you previously decided to skip. You know really important stuff. Rarely if ever has it been applied to serious things like transplant surgery, evacuations or preventative home repairs, you know the important stuff. FOMO I would argue should be diagnosed on a sliding on scale and it could be overall a good thing or pretty dang bad. So how do you know if you too have FOMO and what to do with yourself if you do.

Ran it! Got the T-shirt!


I would say I have a level 2+ level of FOMO mostly for races I decided to skip for really good reasons at the time. It might be my work schedule, the fact that one more race is too many in a season, those dolla dolla bills yo or the fact I’ve already done it a lot but come race weekend the FOMO is so real! In the days leading up to the event I start seeing posts from participants or the race organizers and I regret my decision. There also might be a race that isn’t really in my wheel house that I’m ever so tangentially interested in and once I think it sounds interesting I’ve finally accepted I’m going to have to do it eventually. Like flyin’ nuts this year. It’s listed in my tiny home village (it’s not really) and that was enough to get me interested which pretty much committed me to do it eventually. The thing is I’m not a trail racer, there’s no medal and it’s a busy time of year. So no right? Ummm… I did it this year so…

This year I was all I’m not doing Bluenose this year. I mean it. I had lots of good reasons like it’s expensive, I’ve done 4 races there now and it commits us to staying home for the May long weekend. And other reasons too they’re just boring. It’s our big event around here so it gets lots of air time leading up to it. Plus everyone seemed to be doing it, customers, the girl who works at the hardware store and every single person I follow online. At least it seemed that way. So I ended up running it with my stepdad this year… and I registered for 2020 on the day registration opened so…

Oh yeah, Mud Hero said last year was in fact the last year for Mud Hero around here so I did it doubting that was the truth. That worked out though since it seems form the emails I’m getting for this year they did cancel the option near me.

Anyway I have it for races hard but not so much in other aspects of my life not so much. If we’ve decided to skip a social thing for any reason it doesn’t phase me looking at pictures online. I actually think about how comfy my jammies are. I can even comfortably skip events like the new hot thing like movies, restaurants or instagram picture environments that everyone else is checking out I’m cool to pass up. So I guess it’s not at a treatable level overall. How bad is your FOMO? Let’s find out.

Level 1: Sometimes regretting you decision to skip thing but it doesn’t give you any real level of angst and no jealously for those that were. More like maybe you’ll make a point to check it out next year, probably.

Level 2: Level 2 FOMO really steps it up a notch. As the event is passing or has recently passed you really feel like you have made a poor life decision that will honestly haunt you even though your logical mind may differ. At level 2 you will feel pangs of jealously from time to time. You’ll definitely experience strong emotions and they might even start to effect you mood.

Level 3: Level 3 FOMO is real, totally and completely terrible and real. At level three FOMO will effect both your mood and your behavior both negatively. Even if you skip the event because you literally had no other choice, like if you’re injured, you still find yourself feeling like you missed out. If you have level 3 FOMO you might even find yourself doing things that you really don’t even WANT to do.

Run a half at Bluenose they said, it’ll be fun they said, no one said it would be a monsoon. Oh and I did wait half an hour in line to take this picture…

Why FOMO is a bad thing

If you take FOMO too far it can actually be a bad thing well beyond seeming like you actually watch the Kardashians. Most importantly giving into your desire to do everything that crosses your path puts you at major risk for over training. Races are particularly bad for overtraining risk because the excitement of the day leads you to pushing really hard and too much of that is a recipe for injury. The next thing is exhaustion and fatigue which can lead to boredom and giving up. If you’re not really passionate about the events you’re participating in you’re not going to want to stick with it for too long. Being picky about what you actually do can help keep you interested. Having FOMO also means you’re constantly comparing your life to others, which is really not healthy. Plus if you just follow everything someone else is doing you might miss out on cool hidden gems that you actually love!

Why FOMO is a good thing

A little bit of FOMO can help keep getting you out the door again and again. If like me your FOMO centers around certain races it does a whole lot more than motivate you on race day. You want to be able to complete the race and maybe even not embarrass yourself so it keeps you training. It can push you to new challenges and generally keeps you in the game. Rather than doing the same thing over and over, nothing really wrong with that though, you end up not trying new things. Personally I believe a little bit of FOMO is a great thing!

Signs and symptoms

  • On the date of an event (or before or after) you regret your decision 
  • Regrets stem from events you technically could have attended for the most part.
  • When browsing social media afterwards you feel sad, lonely and a bit depressed looking at pictures of people you know who went
  • You find yourself jealous of people who did attend in a weirdly strong way
  • Even if you had lots of perfect reasons for skipping you’re now wishing you could have changed your whole life to attend
  • Going to things you really don’t want to or care about that you don’t HAVE to do.
  • The very fact that you’ve heard about something cool pretty much commits you to try it
  • Even if you’re sick or injured you still participate
  • You’re spending more than you should be on the experience

Treatment options

  • Set a hard budget for entertainment and stick to it
  • Think things through and make a pro con list
  • Pull that list out later if you feel crappy later
  • Think about taking on one bigger thing that will force you to skip the little stuff for a while
  • Avoid overusing social media
  • Be present in the moment and make a point to enjoy what you are doing instead
  • Realize that you are the one creating these negative feelings and you control them
  • Make it a point to skip the odd thing to make it easier over time
  • Have a plan for what enjoyable thing you will do instead
  • Remember people are only posting the best picture and the best moment. (It might have actually sucked overall)

As much as we might not want to admit it FOMO is a real thing. A good or a bad thing well, that’s to be determined. Do you think you have a case of FOMO? How bad is it?

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