How to Overcome the Fear of Missing Out

Have you heard of the fear of missing out?  I know it is not a new thing, but it is something that I have been thinking about lately – especially with all of my desire to slow life down a bit.  I need to overcome this fear.

If you haven’t heard of this, it is exactly as it sounds.

From Wikipedia – “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.”


If you look into this idea it is most often associated with social media and Millennials, of which I am one, albeit on the much older side of Millennials!

I do not look at it in only the same way the mainstream looks at it.  I am less concerned about missing out for myself, and much more concerned about my children “missing out.”

Before I had kids, social media was present, but it wasn’t as present as it is now.  Sure, I had a Facebook account, in fact I got one soon after Facebook first came out because I still had my college e-mail address – yes, I had already graduated college when Facebook first arrived on the scene. 

In fact, I rebelled against most social media for a very long time. 


I had a Facebook account with a whole lot of friends – mainly from high school and college whom I never actually talked to.  I found myself entrenched in finding out what everyone was up to – so I deleted my account.  I came back after a while and started a new account…just to again delete it.  Now I use Facebook in a much different way, it is there for me to use to connect to my readers, but also it is how almost every community activity/church activity/friend communication is performed.

So here is social media, and there I am, trying to stay afloat.

I’m not exactly sure when the change to feeling like my kids may be missing out began.  I think that perhaps it is a struggle specifically because we homeschool, and I don’t know many other homeschoolers in our area.  I don’t want my kids to feel left behind even though I know they are totally well-adjusted little kids that do all the normal little kid things, just not in a school setting.

What happens when you think that you (or your kids) are missing out?  You overcompensate.

And that is where we are today.  Overcompensating.

It seems that because of what everyone else is accomplishing on a daily basis, I feel the need to keep up.  I want to make sure that my kids are participating in activities; I want to make sure they are keeping up with their public school counterparts.  I need to make sure that I am following their interests, while still guiding them to a responsible adulthood.


However, what I see instead, is that we end up rushing.  We are rushing around to all the things, and less likely to enjoy those activities.  There is less time to be a kid.

Yesterday I talked a bit about thinking back on my own childhood.  It was not very busy.  The things I remember most are going to a family friend’s house on the weekend with my mom, where my brother and I would run around with other kids, make homemade pizza, drink cocoa in the winter, and generally have fun – with no set activities.  We made it up as we went along.

The summers were spent at the lake, boating, swimming, water skiing.  The winters were spent snowmobiling and ice skating out on a farm pond.  I don’t remember any organized activities until I was in middle school.  Yet, here I am, putting my kids in sports at the age of five.


Don’t get me wrong, I love sports, I love watching my kids in sports, and they enjoy it immensely – that is why we have continued.  However, I do recognize the differences from when I was younger.  It is more competitive now.  The seasons are longer, they have more off-season options (that are less like options and more like necessities) for clinics and camps.  It almost seems like if you don’t put your child in sports to learn them *enough* before 3rd grade, you can’t put them in sports anymore.

The Fear of Missing Out.

In my quest for slowing down, I need to start taking these thoughts into account.  I can’t have the kids in three different activities each…first we would never be able to get the kids to all the places they need to be, and second, we don’t want to.

I missed family dinners this past basketball season.  And it wasn’t just because of basketball, it was theater, it was late work nights and meetings.  Of course we can’t slow every aspect of our lives, but there need to be choices, and you cannot make a choice based on fear.

What is the answer then?  How do you overcome the fear of missing out?

I think that to every person it will be different.  Based on some of the comments I got yesterday, I know that some people thrive in being busy – but those people are busy on purpose, it is what feeds them, and gives them energy.


I am not one of those people.  And while I thought that perhaps my oldest was one of those people, now I am not so sure.  She was definitely busier than usual this past fall, and I thought she was enjoying it, until December when she was done.  She still wanted to do her activities because she saw them as social times, but she didn’t want the commitment.  She wanted the freedom of not having a specific schedule to follow.

Freedom.

That is what it comes down to for us.  We want to be able to have the freedom to choose what our next step will be.  I’m not sure if organized sports are really what we need.  It might be a family day of being outside like Renee and her family, it might be having a planned day of unplugging from technology, perhaps it is letting the kids have more control over their own schedules – instead of signing them up for the sports and activities they have done in the past, maybe they create a minecraft group or a book club or just a group of friends to hang out with whenever, they get to choose.

Learning to overcome the fear of missing out is something that is difficult.  We are faced with a constant barrage of “better.”  Whether it is the vacation pictures your friend posted on Facebook, or that Instagram picture you saw of a child testing for their next belt.  Maybe it is that blogger that took an amazing retreat weekend while you can barely get to the bathroom alone.  It could be anything.

But, if we let those images flood our brains, instead of living our lives on purpose, we are chasing something that we don’t necessarily want.  Or even if we do want it, we are disappointed in the small steps that we are making towards that goal when it seems like it was so utterly easy for someone else to get to achieve.

We can’t forget about the struggles that every person faces every day.  I know it isn’t popular to talk about the struggles, but they are there, everyone has them.  What may be a struggle for me may be a breeze for you, and vice versa.

I think the key is to not fall into that comparison trap.  Just because I would love to be able to knit my kids all sweaters, and I know many wonderful bloggers that accomplish that over and over again, I need to be happy with doing a few rows here and there on a table runner.  I should be happy about my own progress without measuring it against anyone else’s.

This year as I am exploring over and over again how to gain more margin in my life, I realize I need to set my own standards.  I should be looking at my life in comparison to my life last year, and my life five years before that.  That is the only measure that matters.

No one should desire exactly the same thing as me.  While the pictures may be pretty, and I may say “oh, I definitely want that,” I need to evaluate it further.  I need to look at my life, what direction I want to go in, and see if that is the right path.

I am definitely in a season of reflection.  I think that is warranted after a busy season that seemed to drag me along instead of my forging ahead.  It is a constant battle to make sure I am living rightly for me, for my family.  My hope is that over the next several weeks I can come up with a good plan for moving ahead.  As my kids get older, they will be involved in life and other activities, and I want to make sure I balance out the structure with the freedom.  I want my kids to experience the choices of life, and learn to make good decisions.  In order for them to succeed, I also need to learn to make these good decisions.

In order to beat the fear of missing out, I need to be willing to face the hard facts in my own life.  I need to look at what I want to do and see if this shiny new thing I saw on Pinterest actually fits in with individual and family goals.

It is exciting to know that there is a path specifically for me; one that not everyone will agree with, but hopefully I will be respected for forging my own way.  It is another part of the journey of life.  Taking the time for my family to slow down is a big part of that journey and figuring out what is next.


Do you experience the fear of missing out?  What are your strategies to move ahead?

30 comments:

  1. FOMO is a real thing! I'm trying to be deliberate about having days where we just stay home and relax. There are too many fun things happening out and about and it's easy to rush from one thing to the next. Sometimes it's really nice to shut my laptop and put down my phone and just play with my kids.

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  2. I have to say, i do think a lot of it is wanting to keep up that social media appearance for a lot of people. They want to seem like they have it all and do it all but in reality it just isn't reality.

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  3. I have struggled with this myself and something similar. I actually go through and clean up my Facebook every couple of months. I was following people that, like you, we went to school together, we didn't talk at all...and I was just staying their friends to see what they were up too. It was awful. Thankfully I am only friends now with people that I have real relationships with.

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  4. I definitely have the fear of missing out, but as I have gotten older I definitely have no problem saying no to invites to spend the night at home! Not sorry about it!

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  5. I think this is me at times but not all the time. I mostly don't really care, but often wonder why some get some I dont and vice versa. I have a lot on my plate so I really dont think I'm missing out on much! - Jeanine

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  6. I have had to take myself off as much as I can and just be okay with what I can do. Sometimes it's hard though

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  7. I agree that we rush at times now to get everything done that we would like. My family does tend to stay home and do more together as a family and to be honest I really enjoy it!

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  8. I totally know what you mean and it's so dangerous to delve into other's fb accounts and all - I find it so damaging yet I keep being friends with all those people. Sometimes I let myself go and have a look around FB, then feel crap for a day but I know I've had my dose of nostalgia and it's not gonna tempt me for a while haha! Hope you're feeling better xxx

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  9. I try to disconnect from social media every now and then. While I don't have a fear of missing out exactly,, I do feel the pressure as a blogger to keep up with posting and socializing. That can get hard sometimes when I'm trying to work or spend time with my husband.

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  10. This is totally a real thing when you see people doing things you aren't. I typically don't share everything on social media.

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  11. Girl you are preachin to the choir. I can relate to all of this. I need to remind myself to just slow down and disconnect. It's good for the soul.

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  12. I don't have kids so I am not worried they are missing out. But as an adult the only time I worry really about missing out it when we are travelling. Like I'll miss out on doing the perfect EVERYTHING while we are one road. It's ridiculous but it's how I feel.

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  13. I needed this today, so much. Social media is the worst when it comes to comparison.

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  14. One of my fondest memories from my childhood is exactly what you describe as freedom. I remember playing outside with a bunch of kids from the same neighbourhood and everyday we would come up with a new game and a new way to make our parents mad! lol This post helped me refocus on what's important to me. Thank you for that.

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  15. You make some really great points here. However, sometimes I realize I should be doing more fun things with my kids because of the moms I see online. I get caught in such a rut sometimes.

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  16. I struggle with this sometimes, social media has both pros and cons. I just purged my Facebook friend list, I was following so many people that I barely knew or even talked to

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  17. FOMO is such a real thing! I mentioned it once to a friend and she didn't get it but it's so real. I only use FB for my blog page and groups. I don't ever pay attention to my newsfeed anymore.

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  18. I used to struggle with that a lot, always trying to do as much as I could so I didn't miss anything. Learning to live in the present has actually opened me up to more. By learning to enjoy where I am at that exact moment I experience and notice so much more.

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  19. yeah i totally agree with this. social media sometimes can steal your time. especially when you don't know how to handle it.

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  20. We do experience this. We have a 3 almost 4 year old and ALL of her friends are in extra activities. We battle with a balance. I think as long as the kids are loving it and you keep the family time you will be okay. Your kids will remember you being there to see them play as opposed to hanging with friends. It will be different but still wonderful.

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  21. I feel like I used to have this fear more when I was younger. I miss out on so much with young kids that I learned to get over it. But it's hard!

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  22. I worry that the pressures of public school are too much and unnecessary which makes me question if I made the wrong choice. I think it is easy to second what we are doing as moms, but then realize that we are doing the best we can today.

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  23. I have never truly experienced the fear of missing out. I guess since i grew uo an older child, ive learn to manage on my own.

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  24. I had not heard about this new problem caused by social media. I hope younger families don't run themselves ragged. I guess it's similar to "keeping up with the Joneses," but with activities instead of material things. You are very wise to reconsider all of the activities. Unstructured time is so important to kids and families.

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  25. I like your idea of FOMO from a mother perspective for their children. I think a lot of parents are keeping up with the Joneses with their kids and it will put a little strain on the family. I like how you were reflective on your own childhood a remembered it wasnt so rushed like it is today. I wish you well with your family and hope your children can find little things to keep them entertained without the FOMO by their peers.

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  26. I used to feel this way when I was younger, but I don't really experience as I've gotten older. I understand how easily it is to feel this way, especially in this day and age with social media.

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  27. As a mom I think this is a pretty common struggle so I thank you for being so candid about your family's perspective. It's so easy to get caught up in it all and over compensate but you're right you just need to evaluate your situation and give yourself and your family freedom. Great post!

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  28. Life with margin is a HUGE blessing! I look forward to seeing a post from you in 6 months. I bet FREEDOM is exactly what you will feel! :)

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    1. This is a subject I am passionate about. We recently moved our whole little family to Sweden to enjoy a slower more nature based lifestyle, that involved a lot less pressure on our children socially and academically. Whilst I know we have no regrets, looking at FB in an evening and seeing friends childrens doing this that and the other makes it hard to focus on the whys and benefits of what you have done to your children!! I also now that we see a lot of the glossy moments too on there, but the brain needs a to be told off almost for trying to trick you you are missing out!! We love where we are now and the much slower pace of life. Somewhere children can be children too :-)

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  29. Oh my. This is so true. The fear of missing out - that is the premise on which the whole social media is built. And it gets really addictive, especially for kids. Glad you're spreading awareness on the subject!

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