A few nights ago I escaped for drinks with girlfriends. We got talking about the ‘Fear Of Missing Out on My Goals’.
It’s a big thing and even has its own acronym (FOMOMG).
In fact it keeps cropping up in conversations among my friends. Is it a millennial angst thing or an expat thing? Or does it apply to all, regardless of age, gender and nationality?
I’ve felt FOMOMG. At the darkest time in my life, caring for a sick baby while my husband was working abroad in Nigeria, I felt it a lot.
With baby sick, poop, s*tty rented accommodation and a bored toddler for company, I switched on the TV and up popped a friend from uni. I switched channels and saw a girl I’d met on a night out in my more debaucherous London years.
I struggled to find purpose and felt my life was growing as mouldy as the house I was living in.
Some of the least helpful advice I received included: get a job, learn Mandarin, launch a business. Alone with two kids, one of whom was very sick, I didn’t have time to pee, let alone learn a foreign language.
But it’s not just at the most demanding times of my life that I’ve felt it.
FOMOMG is easily confused with two things.
One, the goals we supposedly aspire to are not even ours. I didn’t even want to be on TV so why was I lusting after friends on it? It’s tempting to measure other people’s success as benchmarks for our own.
Secondly, FOMOMG is about personal contentment. If we’re unhappy for other reasons, it’s easy to lose touch with what we’ve achieved and focus only on the negatives.
As my breastfeeding counsellor said to a group of hormonal, sleep deprived mums feeling the FOMOMG: ‘What have you achieved today? You’ve kept your baby alive another day. Without you, they’d die. Chill out and give yourself a pat on the back’.
Sure, today I do have life goals in mind. I have a business venture I’d like to launch in Santiago. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for this blog. I want my husband and I to stop renting and buy somewhere to call our own. I want my kids to grow up with confidence, to experience different cultures, to value diversity.
But I’m already thankful to have lived in nine countries. I’m grateful to have swam off the Angolan coast, to have experienced Syria at peace, to have given birth to three awesome children.
I now realise the key to a FOMOMG free existence is recognising and celebrating the goals you’ve already accomplished, and differentiating your goals from those of the loudest people on social media. If you can’t do this, surround yourself with friends who can do it for you.
Forget FOMOMG, make drinks with friends your new goal.