Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fear of Missing Out

Last week I volunteered at a study abroad fair. I was thrilled as I watched students take initial steps to enhance their collegiate experience with international study. Study abroad changed my life so I was excited about the possibility facing these young coeds. It wasn’t long before I discovered that in addition to excitement there was something else permeating the air—fear. I was surprised by how many students asked some variation of, ”Why should I leave everything I have here?”
Making decisions requires us to weigh options. We have to consider how each option will impact our lives and base our choices on potential impact. The idea of potential impact is often what causes us to stumble. We want to know exactly what will happen before we make choices and that’s not possible. There are no guarantees. Even still, I am amazed at how often people choose good and refuse great. For example, it is good to get a college education. It is great to get a college education and international experience.
Fear often gets a strong vote during decision-making. During the study abroad fair it was apparent that these students—like many others—had an intense fear of missing out. It is so common that it is now referred to as fomo. Yet it isn’t the fear of missing out on greatness that drives decisions. We allow the fear of missing out on regularity and routine to lead us.
In order to live a life of greatness you have to be willing to let go of goodness. The students who asked me why they should leave their current life—their normal, routine college life—for a semester filled with unknown possibilities are afraid that life will pass them by while they are away. What will I miss if all of my friends are here and I’m not? Will my boyfriend/girlfriend wait for me? What if my relationships change? What if my life doesn’t fit anymore?
Maybe you are facing a major decision. Should you apply for a new job? Should you relocate? Should you leave behind life as you know it for a life that is unknown? As you weigh your options, talk things out with friends and family, and make your pros and cons lists consider what is leading you. Making a rational and informed decision is one thing, but when we are ruled by a fear of missing out, even when we choose routine we never fully live. When we fear missing out and make decisions based on that fear we are chasing instead of experiencing life. Don’t let the fear of missing out cause you to miss out.

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