I used to have an extreme fear of missing out, also known as FOMO. Whenever I heard about an event I missed out on or saw my friends having fun on social media, dozens of thoughts rushed into my head on why I wasn’t there. I felt insecure and left out. I couldn’t stand missing out on an event that “everyone” was going to be at, so I felt a compulsive need to attend every social gathering.
As the number of friend groups and campus organizations I became a part of increased, the number of social opportunities did as well. Most recently, I drove back to Berkeley from a beach bonfire in San Francisco so that I could attend another event here, only to rush late to Emeryville for a third event later in the evening. Over the course of the day, I could tell I hit my extraversion limit, and I felt worn out.
Trying to be everywhere left me always on a tight schedule and made me realize there was no value in being somewhere when I was being there just to be there. I had a bunch of assignments due soon, but I sacrificed sleep in order to attend all three social events. I found myself asking: “Why am I here?”
I realized that I was burnt out, and I felt less connected to people because I wasn’t fully involved at every event. This meant that for future events, I decided to start limiting myself by saying “no.” When I said “no,” I was prioritizing my personal needs — school, hobbies and rest — over what I thought was my social need. I learned to be OK with not being at every social gathering.
Rather than fitting others’ schedules into mine, I created my own schedule; instead of going to every event, tagging along just to not feel left out, I told myself to attend only those that my schedule allowed. When time allowed, I took more initiative to organize gatherings with people I wanted to spend more time with. I started to create valuable social opportunities for myself.
Now, I can’t say that I’ve completely stopped having FOMO, but I’m definitely at a much healthier place. I don’t feel bad about lying in bed and seeing friends having fun on social media. Rather, I’m thankful for the rest I’m getting. When I want to spend quality time with people I care about, I organize an event myself to enjoy the time fully. By prioritizing my own needs and schedule over following a social schedule others have created for me, I learned to achieve better social health and overcome my FOMO.