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How I learned to Conquer FOMO

by Josh Knepp, Career Ambassador ‘22 Oct 4, 2021

This April, I wrote a blog post all about driving down the highway of life, how to learn to appreciate it and not be so scared of the open road.

In a similar manner, I’d like to discuss in the present article the constant threat hanging over our heads at any given moment: the fear of missing out.

In college, the work force, and life in general, there are constantly choices to be had, commitments to be made, and most terrifying of all, things to miss out on. To loosely quote FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…most of all the fear of missing out.” So, if you’ll allow me, I’ll help you to stop worrying about what you might miss, and love the moments your life does offer you.

Do What Will Fulfill You

A lot has been said over the past, oh I don’t know, century, about chasing the vague idea of “opportunity” in any and all forms and staying on “The Grind.” The idea being that as we keep pushing and straining towards these opportunities, eventually, they will pay off in some luxurious way and prevent any chance of “missing out.” Sometimes, of course, it is important to throw yourself into “The Grind” in order to invest in your future, and a few extra yeses can lead to beautiful new things.  So I’m not calling for Nursing majors to stop studying, but rather encouraging you to stop saying “yes” to things you know will make you miserable just to avoid FOMO. Instead, say yes to the things that move you. Will they always be fun? No. But will they leave you fulfilled at the end of the day? Absolutely.

An example of this in my own life was agreeing to be the Co-Event Director for Special Olympic Pennsylvania’s Eastern Fall Sectional (EFS) which happened this past Sunday on October 3. Was this experience always fun? Anyone on the EFS committee can tell you it is not always fun to be on Special O, as the stress of planning an event for roughly 700 athletes, 200 coaches, and 600 volunteers does not exactly fit neatly into one’s comfort zone. But every time I participate in Special Olympics, on the day of the event I am always blown away by the gratitude and love the athletes have for an event which we committee members think is held together by duct tape. I am always fulfilled by the experience.

There are a lot of things I could have said yes to instead, for example had I not done Special O, I could have gone on the CAB Mystery Trip, or played community Volleyball with my coworkers in the CDC. And while I may have enjoyed those things, I know they wouldn’t have fulfilled me the same way Special O did. In the end, by saying no to some things and not being preoccupied by what I was missing, I was able to experience something so much more fruitful and rewarding.

Not Every Decision Needs To Be Towards “The Next Step”

Going along with feeling fulfilled, sometimes the right decision for you is taking time for yourself. Would taking on an extra shift at work help your paycheck and endear you to your boss? Probably. But it neglects the most important part of the equation: you. I fear one thing people fail to do is recognize that choosing not to develop yourself professionally can still be a valuable move. It’s important to maintain a healthy work life balance, and believe it or not, “The Grind” will always be there tomorrow. Recognizing when you need to step away is an important part of the career journey, and ultimately makes saying “Yes” a lot less scary.

The fear of missing out and the desperate desire to go through every open door life offers you is not going to set you up for a happy life, and it is not a reason to always say “yes.” By focusing on the opportunities and activities that leave you fulfilled, you can learn to say yes to what’s good and no to what will burn you out. Likewise, recognizing that it is okay to stop and take a breath will not lead to a slew of missed opportunities. Rather, the balance between rest and work will allow you to better appreciate and enjoy the things that you really want to do.

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