I don’t have a lot of phobias. Yeah, being alone in a dark room creeps me out, but I’m not afraid of needles, heights, snakes, public speaking, or even dying. When my boyfriend and I get the chance to go see a scary movie, he’s the one who says no (despite all my begging — what a scaredy cat!). However, there’s one thing that seriously puts me on edge, and that’s being left out.
Everyone experiences FOMO occasionally; it’s a normal part of the human experience. Your friends are going out for drinks, but you’ve gotta babysit your little brother. Your bestie’s going shopping, but she invites someone else. Trivial though it may seem, we’re social creatures by nature — even you introverts out there — and the knowledge that “our people” are having fun without us can be extremely unsettling. Have we been forgotten?
This fear, I’ve learned, is especially popular among the chronically ill and disabled. The world is built for people who wake up feeling great, who can walk on two feet and talk and see and hear, who have unlimited energy reservoirs. When you’re chronically ill or disabled, you don’t fit that mold. And not fitting the mold means lots of missing out.
Cystic fibrosis has forced me to miss out on more than I could ever keep track of. Earlier this year, I missed a spring break trip to North Carolina with 12 of my friends because I was stuck in the hospital. Less than a month later, another hospitalization kept me from participating in the bi-yearly concert for which I had been practicing for months with my college percussion group. I had caught a cold from someone. (Literally. The doctors checked. I had rhinovirus.) I was admitted just four days before the show. My friends scrambled to replace me, and on the big night, I lay in bed and cuddled my phone, watching and rewatching every Snapchat I could find. It hurt so badly not to be there, but it would have hurt even worse to not know what was going on … or so I thought.
How to fight FOMO
- Stay off Snapchat.
And all social media, for that matter. I know, I know — if you can’t be at the party, you at least want to see what’s going on! You at least want to make sure they’re not having too much fun without you! Social media grows faster every year, and as a result, humans are getting closer and closer to being able to occupy two places at once: at home, glued to their phone, and at the party. But that’s the thing — no matter how close we get, no matter how real the livestream may seem, digital experience will never be able to replace physical experience. Getting bits and pieces of what’s going on through Snapchat or Instagram may feel good at first, but five seconds later, you’ll probably feel pretty empty. Just turn off your phone.
- Have your own party.
One of the biggest reasons why FOMO makes me sad, personally, is the notion that other people are having fun and I’m not. That I’m alone. The quick and easy way to fix that is by NOT not having fun and NOT being alone! Invite someone you’re close to (that’s very important — closeness) to come spend time with you. This person should understand your cystic fibrosis/health needs. That way, if all you can do is get under a million blankets and watch Disney movies, they’re right there with you, no questions asked.
- Better yourself.
You’re already missing out on something — that much won’t change. So you might as well use that time to do something fulfilling. For me, this means working toward greater goals. When stuck at home, I like to read or write, work on homework, edit YouTube videos, paint/craft, or meditate. The thread running through all of these activities? Creative thoughtfulness. Anything that helps me improve my own creativity or become a more thoughtful person is unsurpassably fulfilling to me. By busying myself with activities related to my values, I forget all about whatever it is that I’m missing.
- Take a nap.
Can’t be jealous if you’re asleep!
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.