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The Paradox of FOMO

Growing up, while I try to maintain my job with other duties, it often feels like juggling too many balls at once. When my friends go on fun trips and enjoy exciting adventures, I find myself tethered to the demands of my career and family commitments. While scrolling through my social media feed, I can’t help but envy the carefree smiles and beautiful landscapes that fill my screen. It’s as if everyone else knows the secret ingredient of leading a happy life while I’m stuck in an endless loop of work and responsibility. FOMO kicks in in such situations.

So, what exactly is FOMO?

I’m sure you’ve heard about this modern-day curse called FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. Maybe you even have it. FOMO is induced by anxiety about missing out on a great encounter or losing a crucial opportunity. It is caused by the amygdala, which is the brain region that detects whether something is a threat to survival. This portion of the brain interprets the feeling of being excluded as a danger, resulting in worry and anxiety. FOMO is more likely to occur in people who are already sensitive to environmental threats. This includes individuals who suffer from social anxiety, obsessive or compulsive behaviours or have experienced emotional trauma in the past.

Smartphones and social media have increased the frequency of FOMO by generating scenarios in which users constantly compare their lives to the idealized experiences they see posted online. In a world that portrays FOMO as a negative and anxiety-inducing phenomenon, it is critical to recognise that, like every other thing, it has its pros and cons. While extreme fear of missing out can cause tension and harmful comparisons, there are times when FOMO can act as a stimulus for personal development, discovery, and meaningful experiences.

The Upside to FOMO

FOMO often serves as a motivational force, propelling individuals to aspire for greater achievements inspired by witnessing others’ successes. Observing peers achieve their goals or embark on exciting ventures can ignite a desire within us to emulate their accomplishments, motivating us to strive harder and challenge ourselves further.

Feeling like we’re missing out can make us want to try new things and take risks. We might explore hobbies we’ve never tried before, invest in new opportunities, or visit new places just because we don’t want to miss out on the fun. Even though FOMO can sometimes make us feel left out, it can also inspire us to reach out and spend more time with friends. We see others having fun together, and it motivates us to nurture our own relationships and create memorable moments with the people we care about. FOMO has a way of clarifying our priorities. For instance, when someone decides to prioritize work over a river cruise, it becomes apparent that their career holds greater significance in their life. This understanding of what matters most can provide direction and purpose, enabling individuals to make informed decisions and ultimately achieve greater success. It can encourage us to stay informed about what’s happening in the world. We want to be part of the conversation and know what’s going on, so we make an effort to stay up-to-date with news, trends, and new ideas.

FOMO can provide a reality check and a sense of acceptance for not being able to do it all. This acknowledgement underscores the peace that comes with realizing our limitations and finding contentment in the choices we make despite our desires.

By using FOMO as a motivational tool, embracing curiosity, fostering connections, staying informed, and engaging in self-reflection, we can transform this phenomenon from a source of anxiety into a force that takes us toward more significant personal development and fulfilment.

Author – Anika Tasnim

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