Fear of F.O.M.O

Let go of the F.O.M.O

One of my earliest experiences of F.O.M.O was when I was seven. I was three years into my primary school career and was cock of the walk. I struggled with subtraction, sure, but at reading out loud, no one could touch me. As soon as I’d hear ‘does anyone want to start read…?” I’d shoot up my lámh. I was ready. 

I was a reader. I was a lick. 

It was probably for all these reasons then, that I was given the lead roles in the class Christmas plays for Junior and Senior Infants. I was a performer dears, what can I say? 

Once I hit First Class however, things changed. In a twist that I did not see coming, another girl was given the main role of ‘Farmer’ in that year’s festive show. I was tasked with the role of ‘background mushroom’, arguably more of a stretch acting wise, but still, not what I wanted. Being the lead meant more reading out loud and extra fun and I was not involved. 

I hated missing out. 

Still, we can forgive our childhood selves for lacking grace and generosity of spirit in certain situations because, well, we were kids. But what’s our excuse when we’re fully fledged adults? As parts of the world start to open up again after our collective hibernation, why does our inner F.O.M.O monster get fired up as we see people doing their bits on our socials? 

For the past 15 months the world has all been in the same boat. We’ve gotten through our days knowing that no one is having any craic. We’ve just bopped around our homes wearing tracksuits and eating cheese and it’s been fine or at least, we’ve gotten used to it. 

Since March 2020, F.O.M.O levels are at their lowest recorded since records were kept. But now, things are starting to shift and people are doing bits again. 

Even though we may have privately resolved to ourselves that we’re not going back to how we did things before, seeing friends have a lovely time by a fire pit in someone’s back garden makes us feel like we should be doing something too. What a mysterious bucket of contradictions us humans are. 

Like a F.O.M.O Jessica Fletcher, I decided to ask psychotherapist Ejiro Ogbevoen to help  me understand why seeing others re-engaging with the world can feel threatening. She explained ‘fear indicates threats and danger and the need to protect/defend ourselves. In a world where the threat isn’t physical we look for it in the non-physical. Add to this our lack of self-awareness which supports the idea that others know better than we do. We frantically look for more and more information in the hope of catching up; not missing out on important information that could possibly help us. In reality, we are just feeding the fear and creating an anxious state that is not sustainable.’ 

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