FOMO – fear of missing out – from the view of an expat, and overcoming it.
For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m quite a sociable person and I find it quite difficult to say no if Im invited somewhere. For those of you who don’t know me; I have different friendship groups and I love blending them. I like my friends to be friends with each other and I love organising events/parties/dinners/nights out/nights in for us all to enjoy together. I love making the memories, having the fun and then documenting the entire evening via taking masses of photographs.
When I moved away, I knew that I would miss out on all of the events/parties/dinners/nights out/nights in that my friends were organising. But I wasn’t mentally prepared for the way it would make me feel.
When I lived in London… I used to hop on a train and head back up north to be at said events. I didn’t miss anything. I would bend over backwards to make the effort to be at birthdays/leaving parties etc and although I spent my entire Friday evening and Sunday afternoon travelling up and down the country – I felt like it was worth it.
I knew when I moved to Stockholm that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with that commitment. Flying back and fourth is expensive and unrealistic. Plus my life was here now… and I had to make the most of it rather than dwelling on what I was missing out on back home. So I did.
The first couple of months were difficult because I was still finding my feet and making friends. And for someone who suffers with FOMO… I missed A LOT more than I thought I would.
In April I’m going skiing with a big group of friends. Most Fridays they go out together. They call it ‘Friday Club‘. Not everybody can go every Friday – they all have lives and other friends (I think). But if you don’t have other plans then you would probably go to FC. We have an intense group chat which is spoken in every day without fail – it is actually a part time job to keep up with the content in said chat. My friends would talk about all the fun they had last night and share all their pictures, video’s and boomerangs from Friday Club… and as the weeks went by… following the content… I didn’t feel jealous that I wasn’t there anymore. It just felt normal and I began to accept the FOMO. And as weeks went by, the FOMO decreased. I got used to it.
So I got used to missing out on regular nights out with my alcoholic ski friends… and all my other lovely friends. And, don’t get me wrong, I do occasionally get FOMO still… but only for a second or two. E.g when the event is arranged and I know I cant go. I know that there is no point getting worked up about missing out on something – especially when you’re doing something else that is just as fun.
You just have to accept that this is life. You cannot be in two places at once. You cannot please everybody and you cannot do everything all of the time. And I have.
Now instead of avoiding the subject when the weekend is approaching and not asking my friends what they’re doing because I don’t want to get FOMO. I make sure I ask. I want to know. Its nice to know they have plans and they’re having fun. Its nice to hear they’re going away for the weekend or they’re going to that new restaurant in Manchester or they’re throwing a dinner party for my alcoholic ski friends. Im happy they’re having fun. I like hearing about the stories and catching up about what happened. And if you don’t take interest, ask questions and make effort to know whats happening in your friends life then what sort of friend are you? I certainly didn’t want to be one of those people who moved away for a while and then moved back to find I knew nothing about my friends anymore because I haven’t made the effort to keep in touch. Granted the effort goes both ways – but thats a different subject.
The real FOMO sets in when there are more important events that I haven’t been able to attend… and sometimes it’s followed with a little bit of guilt. I missed one of my best friends birthdays a few weeks before I flew home for Christmas – I was gutted! Then I missed a special persons funeral at the beginning of this year. It was sudden and mid-week… my whole family went together and I felt so terrible that I couldn’t be there. But this is the difficulty that comes with living in a different country. It isn’t as easy as hopping on a train home for 1 night. More complications e.g. flight times, booking days off at short notice and expense come with it.
I think I can safely say, after 6 months of missing out on probably over 100 events/parties/dinners/ I’ve been invited to – I have well and truly overcome the FOMO.I actually feel like I’ve done a full 180. Or maybe I’ve just grown up a bit? Probably a combination.
Do you get a fear of missing out? Do you feel bitter/jealous when you can’t attend something? Or do you find the whole idea of it stupid? Let me know in the comments 🙂
p.s shout out to all my friends and family at home and in Stockholm – I love you all.