Yesterday evening as I surfed the internet, this article about the joys of staying in rather than going out popped up on my screen. The woman in this piece describes how many people attend gatherings and parties because of the fear that they might be missing out on some “important” something (more commonly called FOMO). Part of this phenomena is related to social media and the assumption that based on other’s tweets, Facebook pictures, and statuses that, of course, your friends and acquaintances are having more fun than you. She concluded that at many of these “in” gatherings, she felt awkward and anxious, rather than uplifted. Ultimately she made a choice that she preferred staying home.
One particular line resonated with me in the piece. Susie Pearl, happiness expert, proclaimed that the author’s need to stay in may center around “being honest about who and what is truly important to you.” When you focus your thinking on that statement, a shift occurs. A few years ago, pangs of feeling left out might have hit me if I caught mutual friends getting together without me or if I found out others were catching dinner and my name failed to make the cut. I probably took some of those non-invites personally, but more because I suffered from the “fear of missing out” or hurt because I thought being left out indicated some deficiency in me. These days not being included is unimportant. I enjoy staying in. I look forward to reading a book on my ever-growing list or writing in the comforts of my office. Some weekend nights, my husband, daughter, and I grab a bite to eat and then catch a movie at home. I am still a very social creature. There are times when I enjoy going out, but it is on my terms and with people whose company that I enjoy.
Perhaps my angst in not being included is thawed because I am claiming and understanding who and what means more to me. I’ve identified those that are part of my inner village and the interests that I truly want to pursue. When those elements rise to the surface, this undercurrent of missing out sinks to the bottom. You understand that there is a true joy in missing out.
I used to get that left out feeling, but now I realize that I would probably have said no if I had been asked. I like staying at home and doing what I want to do. Years of raising kids and having to do things for everyone else, I guess. Sometimes I get in trouble with my husband, so I try and make sure I go do stuff with him! 🙂
Robyn: You raise a good point. Would we even attend events even if we were invited? I think people tend to focus on the actual invite rather than a pressing need to really want to participate in a certain outing.
Good for you, Rudri. You’ve come into your own so to speak.
I used to do most things I was invited to, but these days I do few of what I’m invited to. Not because I don’t want to be with others but because there are usually other things I’d prefer to do which often has something to do with home or a current project. The good thing is I no longer feel guilty when I say no.
This is an important distinction, Susan. I also don’t mind socializing with others, but I also need time to cultivate my solitude and interests. It’s learning to really choose how you want to spend your free time and not participating in activities or socializing with people whom you don’t enjoy.
I think this comes with age as I no longer care if I am missing out on something because I am happily doing my own thing!
It is empowering to feel at peace with the pursuits and people you choose to include in your life.
Yes..it is empowering to feel at peace with the things and people that you choose. 🙂
When we realize the liberation that idea offers, our personal lens gains clarity.
Gretchen Rubin talks about this concept in her book, The Happiness Project. She frames it as knowing herself well, aka “Be Gretchen” — I found it very freeing to personalize that motto (Be Sarah) and not be disappointed when I chose not to participate in things that I probably wouldn’t enjoy anyway but that lots of other people seem to enjoy.
Defining who you are and what you like is crucial in trying to tackle FOMO. As we grow and evolve, our experiences dictate what gives us the most satisfaction. When you adopt another person’s choice or go along with the crowd, it fuels the undercurrent of a less fulfilled life.
I enjoy Rubin’s work and am excited about her upcoming book on Habits.
I’ve also recently begun turning invitations down if I didn’t feel some enthusiasm about going. I’ll always say yes to small get-togethers with close friends, but I’m now reluctant to join large gatherings just for the sake of being polite. Definitely when I was younger I worried a lot about missing out – meeting a new guy or being liked and staying on someone’s radar, or making a work contact.
I’m glad you’ve found a comfortable place for yourself now, Rudri. I feel it’s a mark of achievement in terms of the peace we have reached within our ourselves and the assertiveness we’ve developed.
When I was younger, I would spend many hours wasting my time on why I was not included to certain gatherings. Now, with experience and age, I am at a place where it does not even cause me any pause. I focus on the relationships that really mean something to me.
As always, thanks for sharing your experiences, Cecilia. It always helps to know that I am not the only one who grapples with these issues.
I love this post! I have recently started been confronted head on with this issue, and realized that at times it is much better to stay in and do whatever you would please. Now, I don’t even mind (most of the time!) if I don’t get invited to something, because I know I wouldn’t have wanted to attend anyways.
You make a good point – Sometimes it is just the need to be included, rather than a real want to attend. I think realizing this truth creates a clarity that provides comfort.
I think that not worrying about being left out comes with becoming more comfortable with yourself. It’s a process.
I definitely agree. It took me many years to come to the realization that it is fine to be left out of some gatherings. It wasn’t always easy and I agree, it is a process. One that comes with experiences and learning to appreciate what truly matters to you.
Oh yes, I used to hate missing out. And now I take great joy in it. Love this post.
Thanks, Tricia. It is so comforting when we come to terms with acknowledging what we truly enjoy and learning that it is acceptable to not always be part of the whole.
I’m getting better at saying yes only to things I really want to do. It’s liberating!