FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out
This feeling is something I’m sure we can all relate to. When you have a family dinner at the same time your friends are going out. When you see a friend’s Facebook post about a hike you weren’t on. When you see an ad telling you about limited edition product or a one-day sale.
I’ve even experienced FOMO at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Each day there have been so many workshops, knowledge cafes and high-level dialogues to attend. There have been so many pavilions to explore and inspiring people to connect with. Through all this, I can’t help but worry that I’m missing out on an event or conversation happening elsewhere. I feel like I need to stay continuously connected to what others are up to.
This didn’t just start because I’m at an international congress though. I am definitely a life-long sufferer of FOMO. This anxious and excited feeling is what drives me to work hard and seek out new experiences. If I didn’t have a fear of missing out, I would not have the same motivation to push my limits.
Although I love this drive, it can be taxing. Constantly wondering if you have made the right life move is stressful. Here’s a few tips to reduce FOMO in our lives:
- We can’t play the “what if” game. At this congress for instance, when I attended a session about Finnish nature schools, I stopped thinking “What if I had gone to the session about Amphibian conservation instead?” I went into situations with no regrets about my place of learning and I forgot about everything else that was happening in the rest of the Hawaii Convention center.
- Everything happens for a reason. We should go through life knowing that every interaction has an important lesson to go along with it. For instance, I had an amazing chat with a local Hawaiian lady who taught me about the importance of local agriculture on the islands. Amongst the chaos of the Congress, I decided to sit down and listen to her speak. I would have never learned about her story otherwise.
3. We have to be fully present in our place. The amount of information we have access to online is overwhelming and removes us from our local community. So sometimes, we need to put away our devices and focus on more natural connections. A few days ago, my friends Sam, Caroline and I got the chance to explore a polynesian voyaging canoe, the Hikianalia . On the canoe, it was so important to be present in the moment. In the photo below, we’re sitting at the stern after listening to George Woodhouse sing about our experience on the canoe. Songs are a great way to focus and feel present.
4. Don’t miss out on reducing your environmental impact . I think we all need to slow down enough to build a sense of community and live sustainably. We all live busy lives. A quick, convenience based lifestyle is the reason why our environment is in such a state. We are often hustling from one thing to the next because we don’t want to miss out. In my busy lifestyle, I always remember to bring a reusable water bottle, utensils and bags with me to reduce my environmental impact.
- We have to go into our decisions with confidence. A fear of others having a better time or a more rewarding experience is unnecessary. We can’t doubt our abilities. Confidence is key to gaining respect and reaching new heights. As National Geographic has been saying at the Congress “Be bold!”.
Having a Fear of Missing Out is only a natural way of trying to find our place in the world. Especially as young professionals, we are still searching for our place of belonging. Each decision feels transformative. I used to be scared about making the RIGHT decision. Now I make A decision confidently and trust that the outcomes will fall into place as they should.