Fear of Missing Out and The Fantasy of Everything

The world provides us with infinite possibilities. More than ever, today we are capable of doing and seeing things that would have terrified our grandparents.

I don’t know if a few hundred years ago the world was a better place than today or not, but it certainly was simpler.

Whether you were an aristocrat or a farmer, the choices available to you in almost every matter were less than what you have today, if any. With some exceptions, a farmer remained a farmer from his first to his last day.

But the world is different today, and I am not referring exclusively about the possibilities of generating wealth and income. Today we have far more option about a greater deal of matters.

Today a farmer doesn’t have to remain a farmer as long as he/she makes the required choices to change his/her way of life.

But that’s precisely the problem. The freedom to choose can become paralyzing.

 

The Dark Side of Freedom

Most cultures and societies today value freedom and free will above most things. Isn’t hard to recognize its benefits. But with these benefits comes a very peculiar consequence.

When we face the need to choose between several options, we have a hard time making up our mind.

If we have to choose between two or three options, the choice might be simple; but when we are forced to choose between 10, 20 or 30 different options, our minds overheat like an old PC.

 

Fear of Missing Out or FOMO

An everyday example of our fear of missing out is the hard time we face when choosing what to order in a restaurant.

Have you gone through the whole menu for the third time without an idea of what to order? Not because there’s nothing appealing, but on the contrary, because everything seems good!

But what if what we order is not as good as the dish the person next to us is having? What if we miss an amazing meal?

We could just order whatever looks like a good idea, and if it is a mess, we can come over in a few days or weeks and order something else.

Is not like is our last meal; yet, we behave as if it was.

And this is not a matter exclusively applied to our eating habits. We struggle with any choice that involves several possibilities.

And often, we fail to choose at all. Because we know that with every choice we make, we automatically decline another thousand possibilities. With every choice we forsake the ethereal nature of what could be while we remain chained to the hard reality of what it is.

So we prefer not choosing at all, because in that “not choosing” everything remains possible.

The fantasy of “everything” can live forever.

But we can accomplish little as long as we refuse to choose, because everything significant in life requires a choice from us. Nothing can be set in motion until we make a choice.

Whether we’re dealing with business opportunities or ideas, partners, lovers, friends or which TV show to watch next, we have to make choices every day.

We appreciate freedom, but we are also paralyzed by its possibilities.

Often when we have to make a choice we spend less time thinking about the consequences of choosing a particular path and more time thinking about the things we could miss by choosing another.

 

Not Choosing is Also a Choice

Life’s possibilities are infinite. But our time on this earth is not.

The first thing to understand in order to overcome our fear of missing out is that we cannot avoid missing out some things and experiences.

We will miss opportunities, we will make mistakes and we will make wrong choices more than once.

But enjoying life and living it at the fullest is not about experiencing every single thing in the world.

All the contrary.

A fulfilling life is achieved by experiencing at the fullest every single thing we chose to do or to be or to have.

The worse that can happen to us is not missing out certain possibilities because we chose to experience something different, but missing out absolutely everything because we never really chose anything.

 

You Might Also Like

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like You Will Lose Everything [And That’s a Good Thing], Life is a Kitchen, and The “Follow Your Passion” Fallacy. Check them out and let me know what you think!

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4 Comments

  1. I love reading your blogs 🙂 I use to struggle with FOMO but I eventually got over it. Now, JOMO (Joy of missing out) has come into my life as well, sometimes painting is better than attending a dinner. Have a great day.

  2. Hi Julio, I enjoyed this post as I’ve observed this phenomena of being paralysed by freedom and choice both in myself and others. I like the phrase that not choosing is a choice itself. I think you are also getting at that choice can mean risk and responsibility. Not choosing avoids that discomfort – I choose to stay where I feel safe and secure.

    I am reminded of this:
    “There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold…. the first rehearsal for life is life itself.” (Milan Kundera). It’s impossible to choose ‘wisely’ using this logic, but I think you can choose to keep growing by choosing to step off the beaten track and treading the lesser known path.

  3. Hmmm… yet another great post.

    I think articles like this are needed in this time and age. With information now so easily accessible than ever before, our appetite for information has become insatiable and even before we make anything out of that which we have, we are already out seeking more.

    The Fear Of Missing Out on social media and the internet can never be described enough, but we can never know it all, no matter how strongly we desire to. Therefore, we need to keep our focus on the things that truly matter,narrow down our choices to the things that would really develop us and others.

    Life presents us with all sorts, life is filled with so many options, but the man who has defined himself, who knows what he wants and has set standards on what he truly believes in is never held down by the FOMO

  4. This just hit home for me. Great post and really helpful.

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