It’s happened to all of us. FOMO.

We are nine years old and we know all of our friends are at an after school roller skating party that we are not, and it hurts hurts hurts to have to miss it to go to a family event. Or maybe we are thirty-nine years old and we see all of our friends on a trip, at a party, or attending a conference that we are not and it doesn’t hurt any less. We watch all of the Facebook updates and Instagram posts scrolling vertically by as we clutch our bag of Cheez-its, watching reruns of Friends in our sweats.

FOMO. If you aren’t up with all the Internet acronyms (and I certainly am not) FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out. Sometimes we don’t know why we feel bad, but we just do. We feel like we should be there (even if we cannot) and we feel like we should have been invited to the party (even if it doesn’t make sense).

It’s just hard not to feel bad when we aren’t included.

I’ve had a special relationship with FOMO over my lifetime. I was that nine-year-old girl who was often left off the invitation list to parties and the one who begged my non-working mother to leave me at after school daycare just so I could be included in what all the “cool” kids with working moms were doing. I’ve been experiencing a level of fear of missing out for as long as I can remember.

And as an adult, with the inception of social media and instantaneous knowledge of what everyone else in the entire world is doing right now, it might even be worse.

FOMO is a very real feeling and very hard to get over. And as I continue to battle it in my small ways, I wonder if FOMO is more about me than it is about other people.

It really isn’t about what other people are doing, it is about what I do with that knowledge. It might not even be about social media but in how confident I am in myself, how settled I am in who I am in Jesus and how much grace I have for others. I’m not over FOMO, not even close, but here are a few things I’ve tried to help me get over that anxiety.

You are exactly where you need to be. Sarah Markley // incourage.me
  1. The most obvious and easy trick is to turn off social media, or at least create difficult access to it for yourself. About six weeks ago, long after everyone’s New Years resolutions were either broken or kept, I decided to delete Facebook and Instagram from my phone. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t use it, I just would limit my access so that I wasn’t mindlessly scrolling all the time. I didn’t do it to not keep up with what other people were doing, but that was a secondary effect. I had much less FOMO because I didn’t see as much social media coming through. What I intended to be a month long experiment has turned into something longer and more beneficial than I would have ever thought.
  2. Focus on what is important.Whenever I’m worried about that conference I’m not at or that party I didn’t get the invitation to, I look at my girls and at the things that I am doing. I look at what is important and why I’m here and not there. The sting is still there sometimes, but it helps tremendously to readjust what I’m setting my focus on.
  3. Do something productive. Maybe it’s time to take your hobby or whatever you’ve been tinkering with to another level. Maybe its time to simply take up a hobby or some kind of artistic endeavor. I’m serious. When we are busy with creative things that are productive and are in line with our gifts, we have less and less time to worry about what others are doing. It’s funny how that works.
  4. Do something fun. My father sent me a text the other day. I had shared with him some struggles that I’m having, and he essentially told me that maybe I was taking myself too seriously and maybe one of the things I needed to do was infuse fun into my day. Fancy that! My dad telling his kid to have fun. But he’s right: when we are truly enjoying life and taking unimportant things less seriously, that feeling of being left out? It doesn’t matter anymore. When you are creating your own thing that might seem enviable to someone else if they knew, your fear of missing out tends to recede.
  5. Think it through. Is this something you would have even attended even if you could? Is it something you would have wanted to attend? Is it something that would have actually worked with your schedule and the schedule of the people you take care of? Most of the time, if we think things through carefully, we run up against the notion that there is a reason you aren’t there and it’s usually very, very practical. Here’s something else: if there is a person who is consistently posting things that make you feel bad about yourself, first ask yourself why? And then, if it seems reasonable, maybe consider if that person should remain in your social media feeds.
  6. Take time to realize who you are and where He has placed you. God’s given us each distinct, beautiful and amazing personalities. He has created us so perfectly and wonderfully and even in that uniqueness, our foundation is Him. You don’t need to worry about “missing out” because  you are exactly who you need to be and you are exactly where you need to be.

Basically, God has been teaching me to live my life the way He wants me to and the way in which I feel the most at home in my own identity and personality. And He will sustain me even when I feel the worst about what I’m missing out on.

He’s good that way.

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We’re never really “missing out” because we’re exactly who we need to be and where we need to be. {Tweet this!}

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Sarah,
    You remind me of a young version of me. I recall so vividly searching for my identity in the inclusion by and approval of others. I placed my value in their hands. How I felt about myself was determined by the whims of people. I can only imagine if we had social media back in my youth and younger years, I would have been a pure mess! You site some wonderful and practical tips on tuning out the world and tuning into God…on being present IN what you are doing vs. being fearful of missing OUT. Wish I had you decades ago! But, we have God and He is constant. His opinion of us never wavers; we are never left out by Him. He loves us, just as we are, with an unfathomable love. Tuning into Him and tuning out the world has been my saving grace. I pray that His love would so resound in your heart and the hearts of others who have FOMO, that His love would replace the fear. It is possible if we keep on asking and trusting. Thank you for a wonderful post this morning…
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Sarah Markley

      i love this Bev! i agree — his opinion of us never wavers and we are never left out. =)

  • http://www.buildinglifeslibrary.wordpress.com Amy M

    I struggle with the FOMO, too. Growing up, I had a sibling who was very troubled and as a result, I was the kid who didn’t get invited to much because so many families disapproved of this sibling’s antics and so we all got ostracized. As a result, I think I tend to feel left out a bit more keenly. But yes, sitting back and realizing all the things we ARE doing and the ways in which God has placed us really does help. Hope you have a great week!

    • Sarah Markley

      yes!! i knew i wasn’t alone! i hope you have a great week too! =)

  • Inspired Life

    Sarah,
    Yup, I’ve had a case of FOMO. I find that keeping my ‘spiritual’ blinders on and keeping my eyes set on what He’s called me to do keeps me focused at keeps FOMO at bay. I do this by minimizing external influences and distractions (esp social media). Pray for all the reader as we joyfully walk out our personal callings.

    • Sarah Markley

      oh yes, we should joyfully walk out our callings. very well said. =)

  • Deb Parker

    This has been such a blessing. Thank you! I didn’t realize that I have FOMO until now and it has been eating me up. Thank you for this message. I will work on these steps starting today. God bless and continue to guide you through this journey. I will be praying for all of us afflicted with FOMO. GRACE AND PEACE

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you so much Deb, and grace and peace to you as well!

  • Randelle S.

    So, this post may have been written just for me. Like, you looked into my soul, and tailored your post to my specific feelings and insecurities. I recently have had some serious issues with FOMO – to the point – well, just to a crazy extent in my book. I think that comes along with a little bit of an identity crisis as well, so number 6 feels like something I need to work on as well as my FOMO, but it’s definitely poignant. All your points are. I’m about to print this post out so I can refer back to it later :)

    Thanks for allowing God to use you and your struggles to reach out and help someone else with similar struggles… I’m asking for prayer that God helps me figure some things out, rediscover who I am, His purpose, and that with Him, all is well.

    • Sarah Markley

      haha. i hear you. i am there so much of the time. praying God can help you rest in the now and not worry about what isn’t. =)

  • Louise

    I really needed this. Mine isn’t about an event. But a colleague has again today bragged about where she is financially in life nearly paid off her mortgage, what she is doing etc. I find it excruciating. I’m nowhere near her position in life, mine will take years and years and shes only a bit older. She has a husband and children. I have none. I can’t bear it. But I have to think God knows me and knows my life.

    • Sarah Markley

      oh, i’m so sorry louise. praying rest and peace for you today.

    • Beth Williams

      Louise,
      Prayers for you today. I find it insulting when people brag about stuff, especially financial, when they know others aren’t in the same position. I never do that stuff!
      May you find peace and contentment know you are where God wants you right now! ((((hugs))))

  • http://www.hollyjanecreative.blogspot.com/ Holly

    Thanks for the encouragement Sarah. I do sometimes suffer from FOMO, but changing my focus to my own activities and thinking on where God has me in that moment is a great way to keep those feelings at bay. :)

    • Sarah Markley

      yes. a lot of it is changing our focus and surrounding ourself with good people. thank you for your comment!

  • Melinda Todd

    You NAILED it. So much goodness right here. Thank you!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you so much Melinda!

  • Al Siebert

    love these words…and your heart…
    so true, so strong, so right…
    Jesus
    shows us

    how much missing out
    is overrated!

    all my love,
    dad

    • Sarah Markley

      thanks Dad =) xoxo

      • sheri

        your father is so warm and loving..you are definitely not missing out in the dad department ! if u only knew how I have missed having a loving and warm dad all my life…you are very blessed, remember there are lots of us out here that would love to have what u have !! God Bless you and your father :)

  • http://www.suzielind.com/ Suzie Lind

    You’re just awesome. And inspiring.

    • Sarah Markley

      love you girl. so much

  • Beth

    Sarah,
    What an encouraging, insightful post! You’ve identified and given good, solid solutions to a problem so many of us struggle with. The sad thing is most of us think we’re the only ones who deal with this until someone is willing to be open and vulnerable. Thanks for being both of those, your words will bring healing to many.
    I pray that all of us in His Body will have healthy self-esteems and will know we’re truly, deeply loved. That we’re right where we need to be, which can be soooo hard to accept at times. :-) That the Creator of everything created us for His pleasure and we’re loved so much He rejoices over us with singing. I’m also praying that those of us who have been held down with the chains of FOMO will see them for what they are and will wear God’s armor so we can fight this attack with confidence.
    Have a wonderful day.

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you beth. and i agree — hoping and praying with you!

    • sheri

      Beth, what a beautiful post, your Words are so encouraging…THANK YOU and GOD BLESS

  • Brandi Nabors

    FOMO. Been there, done that (still do on occasion) – sooooo many times! Because I have/do fall into the FOMO valley, I don’t want my girls to fall too I want so badly to teach my girls to be content in the moments that we have and not the moments that other people/children are having. I deleted my FB and Instagram last fall because simply limiting my time wasn’t enough. I often compared myself and my life to what I saw on my news feed – Comparison is the thief of joy. Ain’t that the truth!

    Since deleting those accounts I have found a stronger bond with my girls, my husband and have even been more creative and productive. I’ve been more present and more accessible for my family as well. I won’t lie, I had some withdrawal, but it’s been life altering. Thank you for sharing this. It’s so reassuring to know that I’m not alone. And I love the pointers, especially number 6!

    • Sarah Markley

      so good brandi!

  • Lisa Leonard

    Love this! So much wisdom. xxoo

    • Sarah Markley

      thanks lis!

  • Acacia

    My 10 year old daughter is hyper aware, socially sensitive and suffers
    from FOMO to a debilitating degree…as do I… so most days I feel ill
    equipped to counsel or encourage… then one day God prompted me to say
    this to her: “I know it does not feel this way right now but your
    sensitivity is your super power. God created you this way and He does
    not make mistakes. It may feel hard or wrong right now but He intended it for good. He has a plan for your life. This is part of the
    training of your super power and one day it will all make sense… one
    day those around you will also see the purpose in your super power and
    be encouraged!” I was 40 before I felt I was among peers that valued my God given character… my prayer for my daughter is that she will rest in Him as she waits… and that she will not have to wait so long!

    • Sarah Markley

      yes. we have sensitivity like a thunderstorm in this home. i agree; it took me until just recently to see it as a blessing. my therapist puts it like this, “sensitive people have a supreme advantage at times: they can assess the emotions and feelings in a room and in others like no other people can”. So go super power senstivitiy!

      • sheri

        OMGosh, u hit the nail on the head, sometimes I look at other’s and can see the hurt in them and I wonder why other’s don’t see or feel this. I think I feel too much, thank u Sarah for this awesome post.

      • Vioba

        Aren’t you an introvert Sarah? You have to be one to have that kind of analysis. I understand what you mean by connecting emotions and feelings

  • KristenStrong

    Inspirational *and* practical help here, beautiful Sarah, and just what I needed to read. Infinite thanks to you, dear one. xoxo

    • Sarah Markley

      aww..xoxo

  • Stephanie rourke jackson

    Feel so similar. I remember being 9, 10, 11 and not invited to the swim parties, after school get togethers and even into adulthood not getting the invitation to the ‘cool party of the moment’ or being asked to be part of a group project. It hurts but I recognize how I deal with it is the real moment of maturity. Accepting is a tough decision sometimes. In the past I would endeavour to somehow manipulate my way onto an invite lost or brazenly just ‘show up’ with the determination that ‘you can’t do that to me’ or arrogantly think that whatever ‘they’ are doing or experiencing without me will be their ‘loss’. Gross. Why did I do these things? Now I get it, I had FOMO! It was me not them. Thank you, Sarah, you helped to give language to emotional struggles. I have deleted my IG app- I think it’s time to delete FB too. And develop stronger boundaries around when I check my social media and who I follow. Basic rule of thumb, if I start comparing or envy rises in me, time to ‘break off that relationship- it’s not you, it’s me!’

    • Sarah Markley

      yep! i hear you!! =)

  • http://inspiredrd.com InspiredRD

    I noticed your dropoff from IG and was wondering if this is why. So glad to know you have benefitted from taking it off your phone. I periodically do this too, usually I end up adding everything back when I travel (and then keep it on for a while until the FOMO rears it’s ugly head again). I have gone through some of these thought processes you’ve listed here, and the one that helps the most is when I think it through…I realize that usually the answer is NO, I wouldn’t actually want to do everything it takes to get myself there, and YES I am exactly where I need to be right now. Thanks for this reminder.

    • Sarah Markley

      haha. i didn’t totally drop off. i just only check it and post when i’m at home (usually) with my ipad. it’s done wonders! and I love your perspective. someday we’ll meet in person, right? xoxo

  • Ivi

    I never had FOMO, but know that I grown in faith and being honest, I fell like I was always making people by my side fells like they were missing out.
    I was always doing something more interesting then what they were doing, no matter how hard they tryed. Or so painted I like.
    If they went to a super cool party, I was at my home reading THE book, and it was a way more cool than any party.
    I didnt lie but while doing this, now I recognize I would fell ok but people around me, dont.
    Least year God asked me to do the hardest. To erase my facebook account, and nowadays I fell so much better without knowing what other people do( no twitter, instagram, just old and good e-mail) But the opposite and for me most important happened too.
    I felt free from the need to paitn a most interesting version of me. God showed me. I am enough as I am. Because He made me like this.
    God is with me in every moment, the good and bad ones. And His presence makes all special.

    • Sarah Markley

      i love it ivi. thank you so much for sharing!

  • http://genuflected.com/ Jenni DeWitt

    Yes! I can relate. My husband will ask, “Did you even want to go to that?” Well no, but I wanted the choice! Lol These are good solid tips for us to fight FOMO. Very helpful, thank you!
    Jenni

    • Sarah Markley

      love it Jenni!! =)

  • http://hikingtowardhome.com/ Sharon

    I know this feeling well. Thank you for writing and sharing about your struggle. I have an inkling I am going to get hit with it again in October while all the bloggers I know will be at Allume and I will miss it for the first time ever. :-/

    • Sarah Markley

      oh yeah. me too. =)

  • http://www.aleciasimersky.com/ Alecia Simersky

    I’ve always struggled with FOMO, and can see it in my daughter as well. Who wants to be left out? I think it takes growing older and wiser to accept who we are, whose we are, and being content with what we are called to do and be friends with. It can hurt so much feeling like you aren’t good enough to get an invite to what seems like everyone else is doing. But it feels so good to finally realize you are good enough and worthy even without the invite.

  • KAY

    I began thinking about the recent news of a few friends
    moving away & pondering my children growing up and moving on; some not even
    wanting to spend a day with me to go buy her some hiking boots. …wondering who my buddies will be; who I will
    hang out with & how I could get the next friend I invest time in, to sign
    some sort of a contract promising not to move away or abandon me. I know; very crazy…and very dramatic &
    harsh! But really, I was starting to get that lonely feeling; then I sat in my
    thoughts…hashing them out with God…and I realized, I have the best, forever
    friend anyone could ever have. He is
    there for me when I want to celebrate, cry, hang out, complain, praise, adore, admire,
    gaze, explode, love, and even hate. He is even not ashamed of sitting with me
    right now, as I can’t even find the oomph to peel myself up off this
    couch. He’s just here, hanging out with
    me …listening to my thoughts, rejoicing over me with gladness; quieting me with
    His love, and even rejoicing over me with singing! (Zeph 3:17). Why, oh my soul, are you so downcast? I have
    the best in Jesus and I will never be alone! I rejoice, because I am my beloved’s
    and my beloved is mine!

  • fiona lynne

    I wrote about exactly the same thing on my blog today before I saw on your Facebook page that you’d written this! Oh I get FOMO so bad, but I’m learning that it’s such a deceiver, because, just like you said here, when I stop and really consider it, it’s not something I want to prioritise in my life anyway, I just became momentarily convinced it was… Having a healthy interaction with social media is really key too.

  • lhamer

    These are great tips and very helpful to me right now. I guess I’m going through my own FOMO. I really like the last one, take time to realize where I am and where he has placed me. I think it will help my spirit of unrest.

  • IdaPahus

    Thanks for writing!! I can really relate to this, I just didn’t know before recently that is was called FOMO! :D

  • Beth Williams

    I don’t have and never did have fomo much. Growing up I was rather shy due to hearing troubles. Really love the suggestions you have for dealing with Fomo. For me #1 is simple. I don’t use social media that much. May look at Facebook some. Your other suggestions are great. We need to take the focus off what didn’t happen and start looking at life, the important things/people and God.
    Everyone is created different. Each of us needs to decide what’s important and do what feels right and fun to us. The absolute best advice is #6. With that one you hit the nail on the head. I used that one to think about my life and work. Maybe I’m not finding a new/different job is simply God has me where He wants me.
    I pray for God’s love to permeate everyone who has FOMO and help them realize that truly they aren’t missing out on anything special!

  • Beth Williams

    While I may not have FOMO, I am highly sensitive. I get my feelings hurt easily. Very sensitive to others feelings also. Yes in a way I can relate to everyone here!