FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, and almost girls experience it. Girls who don’t have social media worry about all the friend updates that they’re missing. Those who do use social media often stress when they scroll through their feeds and spy pictures of outings they weren’t invited to attend. We recently provided tips for adults on helping girls navigate FOMO, and wanted to share these follow-up insights from our Youth Advisory Board. We encourage you to share this post with the girls in your life, and discuss it with them.
Amari V.: FOMO is unavoidable. No matter what you do, it’s going to find its way into your mind. If you don’t have social media, you worry about not having access to what everyone else does. You always feel like you know things so much later than everyone else. And if you do have social media, you feel like whenever you’re not on it, you’re missing out on a conversation, or a group chat, or a post before it was deleted, or a text from a friend saying something important. I personally think the best to handle FOMO is to accept that everyone has it. Everyone’s going to miss out on something. Even though it feels like you’re the only one who doesn’t know something, there’s 99% chance that’s not true. There’s no point in moping around because you feel like you’re missing out on stuff; then you’ll truly miss out on life. Social media is great because you can build friendships and meet new people, so I don’t think you should stop using it altogether. But don’t get so attached to it that whenever you’re not on it, you’re thinking about all you may be missing.
Annie S.: It’s not a great feeling knowing that there’s something important, interesting, or fun going on without you. It makes sense to have a feeling of missing out sometimes, but FOMO becomes a problem when it means you’re checking your phone nonstop to see what’s going on. There was a time where I would always feel as if I had to look at my phone to know what was going on at all times, and that I might be missing something huge if I didn’t. It made me anxious and distracted me from being productive. I think that the best way to fight social media FOMO is to resist the urge to look at your phone. When you feel yourself reaching for it, try to take a deep breath and stop. At first, it might feel like you’re going to miss something, but if you continue to fight the temptation of constant checking-in, you start to realize that not being glued to your screen feels freeing, and you don’t need instant information.
Hannah S.: When you have the fear of missing out, first think to yourself whether it will really impact your life permanently in a terrible way, and if you will survive or not. If after thinking about this, you decide that you will probably survive if you don’t participate, think next about what exactly you’re scared will happen if you don’t go to something that others are attending. What is the worst thing that could possibly happen? Just remember that there is a difference between having the fear of missing out, or just wanting to participate in something.
Kakazi K.: The fear of missing out arises when I see my friends document hobbies that we don’t share. Whether it’s their summer internships, away-games on a team I’m not part of, or even classes I couldn’t possibly fit into my schedule, I experience simple but unhealthy envy. I discovered very slowly that I prefer my own company. However, there’s a rush of energy I get from being in a room full of people that I can’t replicate alone. I really love being with my friends when we meet new people but I do feel lost when they meet new people without me. I also struggle with prioritizing, and social events sometimes take precedence to my assignments. I choose to do this because I often take myself too seriously and feel like I’m not missing out on a small moment but an important stage of my girlhood.
Maisie K.: One time I experienced FOMO was when all of my friends from school had a baking party and I did not find out until one of them posted a picture of it on Instagram. I was upset because everyone in my friend group was there except for me, and I had never said or done anything to warrant them excluding me. The day after I saw the post, I asked my closest friend in the group why she did not invite me to the party, and she profusely apologized and said that she forgot to text me about it. I believed her because she never knows where her phone is, but I never got a clear answer from anyone else as to why I was not invited. It happened over a year ago, and none of them have ever purposely said or done something to be mean to me, so I decided to move on. It still hurt my feelings that they did not invite me, though.
Risa C.: Just admit it. You can’t be everywhere at all times and always be doing the coolest thing with the coolest people in the coolest places. You have to know that’s okay. It helps if you have FOMO to say it out loud once in a while. It may not feel good, but at least you’re noticing that you have it. The easiest way to get rid of FOMO is to just turn off your technology. If you see other people doing cool things or hear about other people doing cool things on social media or texting, you will most likely become jealous and feel like you’re missing out. I, personally, have experienced FOMO a fair bit, mostly from hearing about it from the actual people involved. It could be small-like bathing suit shopping- or big-like sleepover parties I’m not invited to- but I’ve learned to just not be friends with those involved people who keep telling me about the fun things I’m missing.
Claire G.: Exclusion is a horrible feeling and everybody goes through it at some point in their life. Being able to see what your friends want you to see on social media constantly can make that experience even worse. FOMO is understandable and my advice is to make your own plans. Call up your best friend to go to the movies, or go hiking, and don’t care about which party the coolest kids in school are going to. Are they really worth worrying about? Social media presents the “best” version of yourself, the one that you want everyone to see. Comparing yourself to others is something everybody does, even though it’s completely unfair to yourself. When you see those pictures of that super cool party, you see the good times. Like when they’re dancing, or hanging out with their friends. What you don’t see is all the negative parts. Of course you fear missing out, everyone does, but don’t let it ruin your day. If you find that social media is making you feel any worse, take a break and think about how you can spend time making plans, and not feeling sad that you had to miss out on someone else’s.
Olivia K.: There are often parties and events that I don’t attend that are broadcasted all over social media. When many people I know are going to an event, Snapchat stories and Instagram posts involving them become very frequent. This can make not going to this event even harder because it is rubbed in your face. Sometimes I give in and stay on my phone while these things are happening to catch a glimpse of them. I try not to give in, but it’s really difficult. It is very embarrassing when people are taking about an event at school that you didn’t know even happened! My goal for this year is to try to stop caring about what other people are doing. If I am not going, how does it affect me? When your good friends are going, that is different. If all of your friends are together without you, you do have the right to feel upset and excluded. But if we are not talking about close friends, I think FOMO is still a challenge. Personally, I think FOMO has to do with how much I care about what others think of me. When checking social media because of FOMO, I am sometimes worried how people think of me because I am not there. That is a struggle that I am hoping to improve on this year.
Sasha K.: For me, FOMO’s been a thing that’s hit in really strong waves, and my main piece of advice with FOMO is that if you’re always worried about where you’re not invited or what you have to miss out on rather than what’s actually happening in your life, you’re going to miss out on the things you are actually doing. So focus on what’s happening over what isn’t. If you feel left out, organize things for yourself. I get it can be kinda annoying to always have to invite other people, but usually if others feel like you want to spend time with them, they’ll be a lot more friendly and inclusive and invite you to stuff. But still not everyone’s going to be invited everywhere all the time, and it sounds annoying but it’s easier (at least for me) to just accept that. Also in the case of my friends a lot of the time it isn’t that personal and there’s some reason or another why not everyone can be invited, which is something to think about when you feel left out.
Shira M.: When I deal with FOMO, I find it helpful to turn my phone off and focus on something else that is fun. Social media allows people to let everyone know what they are doing in an instant. It is really upsetting to look on Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook and see all of your friends doing something together. By turning off your phone, you can’t see what they are doing. Eventually what is out of sight will become out of mind. To help put the FOMO out of your mind, focus on something that you like to do. I like to watch tv, eat food, dance, listen to music, and cook. Do something that you enjoy!
Lila G.: Last year in 7th grade, a girl who had just joined our group tried to exclude me from hanging out with my two best friends. She was new to the school, and I felt badly because she was struggling to make friends. I invited her into our group. Everything was fine for the first half year. There was no drama. Then, the next year, things went downhill. On a three-day weekend, I texted my friends on Saturday night asking if they were free on Monday to hang out. One of them replied saying “yeah,” but didn’t say anything else. The other two, including the new girl, didn’t respond at all. I was wondering what was happening, because usually they are active on their phones and would text me back right away. Then Monday I found out they were all together because they were constantly posting stuff on stories and their finstas. I just broke down. They were hanging out without me and didn’t even care to text me back. All that day I was checking my phone for any notifications to know more about what they were doing. They posted a lot. I found out they were baking a cake and hanging out. Soon after, we were walking back from lunch, and I just said it; “You guys know I know that you all hung out yesterday without me.” And they made up some lame excuse that made no sense and that I could see right through. Looking back, I should have given my phone to my mom, or turned off notifications. I could have spent that Monday doing something fun with my family or with other friends, not sulking and feeling badly for myself. This year, I will not spend time watching friends have fun without me on social media. Instead, I will get out there and have fun myself!