Imagine Friday night. You're free from the reigns of work and itching for social life. You're anchored to nothing and no one. Totally commitmentless, you turn to Facebook to browse your opportunities. You see Peter, your best friend, has invited you to an impromptu roof top party. After checking your messages you notice that cute girl you met invited you to see the new Godzilla movie. Another friend sent you an invite to his art gallery opening. A few clicks more tells you one of your favorite bands is playing and a whole section of your friends are going. On top of all that you check your phone after it buzzes at you, only to find a text about a two-day festival happening and “do you want to go? We're leaving tonight!”
Overwhelmed, you turn away from the computer, away from your opportunities and spend the next thirty minutes debating your best option(s) (because you can always make more than one event, right?).
You, dear reader, may be suffering from a bout of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.
FOMO affects nearly every person of the general population. Only a select few seem to escape FOMO's grasp and those few seem to be without much social media. But as the majority of us modern day folk belong to one or more social media forums, escaping the opportunity for fun is not an easy task. Particularly when we live in a non-stop-always-busy society. There exists a constant, silent pressure to do more, see more, and experience it all and we adhere to such pressure without question.
Maybe to look cool. Maybe to acquire a spread of stories to tell. Maybe we fear what crazy happenings we will miss if we chose to stay in one night of the week. No one likes feeling felt out. Perhaps we're attempting to soothe our anxiety about being alone, or appease our inability to sit still.
Yet, what happens when we try to experience everything? Ultimately, we experience very little. Our focus shifts to what it is we are missing as opposed to what it is we are presently doing, seeing, tasting, hearing, etc. Essentially, we over commit ourselves so that, when we arrive at one event, we're too distracted by anxiety of missing the next event to enjoy exactly where we are. Appreciation for the present moment leaps out the window and we spend our time only half-there.
Additionally, through over commitment, we drain our natural energy supply. If we constantly push ourselves to do more without replenishing our bodies, minds, and souls with rest, our presence depletes dramatically. We yawn our way through a concert. We get sick. We hear a little voice whirring, saying, 'I should have just stayed home.' We rely on drugs to keep up awake and engaged. In doing so, we lose authenticity. We lose our spark. We dilute good, solid quality time well spent and replace it with a half-assed attempt at living life fully.
In truth, you don't have to do everything to be cool. You don't have to do everything for a fulfilling, exciting, and enriched life. Sometimes staying home with a book, yourself and your cat is the best option. If you tune in and begin to listen to what it is your body and mind actually want, you may find that attending your friends party or going to that festival is not the most helpful or healthy choice. We when take time to mindfully choose our activities, we're committing ourselves not to over-commitment, but to self-preservation and, ultimately, enacting our individuality and intuition. What's cooler than seeing all the concerts, dancing at all the night clubs, and running around to all the parties? Learning how to say 'No, thanks.'
Guest Author Zoe Jones is a San Franciscan native, word addict, hoop dancer, life lover, and yoga teacher. When she's not on her yoga mat or spinning circles in Dolores Park, spends her days hiking around the bay area, drinking a lot of coffee, and contemplating the contemplative bits of life. Find her teaching at Laughing Lotus SF or on instagram, posting way too many cat photos.
View of colorful balloons scattered around sofa in house image courtesy of Shutterstock