Have you been moments away from reporting credit card theft for multiple charges to Taco Bell that all suspiciously fall around bar close when you remembered … ah yes, cheesy fiesta potatoes sobered you up on Saturday night?
Have you entered your apartment and experienced a brief wave of panic that you entered a stranger’s home only to realize it is indeed your place- you’re just not there enough to recognize it?
Have you been receiving complaints lately from long-distance family and friends that you are “too busy” to even call?
If you said yes to these questions, then you may want to sit down… you have FOMO- also known as the Fear Of Missing Out.
FOMO is rampant in our generation- 20somethings who are ambitious and social, green to adulthood and filled with the desire to explore! Put yourself in this situation: it’s a Monday night after a long weekend of partying and the only date you have scheduled is with Juan Pablo and your TV set to “The Bachelor”. But a friend calls last minute offering an extra ticket to Jay-Z at the Rose Bowl! And with that combination comes FOMO- the Fear Of Missing Out.
I get it- I have struggled with a severe case of FOMO ever since I moved to Los Angeles. Back in the small Midwestern town where I attended college, the only thing to do Monday through Sunday is trudge through the snow to a townie bar, drink too much beer, regretfully make out with somebody in exchange for a free shot, rinse and repeat. But LA is different! There’s hiking, yoga, dog parks, clubs, comedy shows, so many movie theaters, concerts galore, and a never-ending selection of up-and-coming restaurants to try. Plus, so many handsome men! And with all of these opportunities brings me to FOMO, which often comes in stages:
1. Excitement: Yay! A new opportunity!
2. Reality check: your credit card could really use a night off.
3. “What if”: This girl you met at a networking event seems fun and she could have great connections! OF COURSE you should go to happy hour with her.
4. Tomorrow: The day you resolve to do the things you said you’d do today. But tonight, tonight simply cannot be put on hold!
How very fitting that at the same time I moved to LA the term “YOLO” was creeping its way into many 20something’s phraseology. I mean, it’s true: you really do only live once- so why WOULD you pass up an opportunity?
And yet after the evening is done and I’m finally tucking myself into bed two hours later than I promised myself I would, my head is a-flutter. I am coming down from a FOMO high! Tonight was fun, but would I have been more productive had I said “no”? Will I regret this when it’s time to pay bills? Man, I’m going to be tired at work in the morning. Will this evening really benefit me down the line?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to have fun-remorse. It’s not that I’m partying every night of the week; I consider doing anything with an acquaintance or friend as “fun”. Yet I have very high expectations for myself, as I’m sure many of my fellow millennials do as well. My Google calendar looks like what I imagine Kate Gosselin’s also looks like- micro-managed down to the minute. Every hour of the day I tell myself what I SHOULD be doing, but I don’t always follow my own rules. And when FOMO wins, which it usually does, my fun-remorse taps me on the shoulder as I rest my eyes for the night and reminds me of what I distracted myself from by giving into FOMO.
Just to clarify- FOMO is not something to be ashamed of, nor considered a bad thing at all! FOMO is how I made some of my best friends. I can also thank FOMO for introducing me to my boyfriend. One hung-over Thursday, a friend invited me to a comedy show- I hadn’t yet attended one, but was tired and feeling broke. However, the “what if I find comedy to be my true calling!” or “this could be the night you finally meet Aziz Ansari!” haunted me in the back of my mind, and before you could say “Beyonce’s new album is dope!”; I was calling dibs on the “sexy Mexi” comedian on-stage and handing him my business card after the show. Thanks for the sexy Mexi boyfriend, FOMO.
It’s so easy to say “yes” to things when you’re new to a city. There are so many fun experiences to be had, and interesting people to meet! But FOMO was giving me the nasty side-effect of fun-remorse! So I took a step back and analyzed what FOMO means to me.
What I realized was FOMO is normal. FOMO is great. FOMO means I am ambitious, fearless, and eager to conquer adulthood for all it’s worth. FOMO is taking advantage of every single open door I see. And so why punish myself for being driven? This sort of energy can’t last forever. Your twenties are the precious years to explore, succeed, fail, and learn from those failures. Go to that Jay-Z concert. Go to happy hour with that acquaintance from the networking event. Go to the comedy show, and hand that sexy Mexi comedian your business card. After all, wouldn’t you rather suffer from FOMO in your twenties than deal with regret in your thirties?
By Kylie Hodges
*Kylie Hodges was born and raised in Madison, WI. A proud Midwestern girl, she loves all things beer, cheese, and Packers. With a degree in Radio-TV-Film and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, she earned the chance of a lifetime driving across the country as the spokesperson of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. That is when this gringa realized her true passion is to share the stories of all the interesting people she has met along her travels, and bring people together with her bubbly personality. Kylie is currently a reality TV producer by day and host by night. When she’s not near a camera, she’s either at a comedy show, attempting a new Pinterest recipe in the kitchen, or befriending strangers in the bathroom of a bar.
Twitter & Instagram: @TheKylieHodges