It’s Friday night and you’re hanging out at home. Maybe you should be doing homework, but instead you’re gobbling up Pretty Little Liars. You pick up your phone and start browsing Snapchat stories, only to realize that everyone—no really, everyone—is out on some fun adventure while you’re wearing oversized sweatpants and eating ice cream in front of the TV.
What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing, really. It’s totally normal to want to stay in, and it’s not like you can’t hang out with your friends another time. You’re having fun hanging out at home and your classmates and friends are having fun hanging out other places. Everyone wins, right?
We start to get bummed out about being left out, and become sudden victims of FOMO.
But of course it’s not that simple. Instead of saying “oh that looks fun I’m glad they’re having a good time,” we more commonly think “that looks fun, why aren’t I there?” We start to get bummed out about being left out, and become sudden victims of FOMO.
FOMO—or the fear of missing out—is all too common. We’re saddened by pictures of people having fun without us, and worry that we’re missing all of the fun stuff. It’s not a fun thing to deal with, but how can we overcome it?
An increase in FOMO is just another reason to limit your use of social media. Seeing picture after picture of people at the movies, at dinner, or at each other’s houses can be fun for a while, but eventually it can make some major FOMO set in. If you find that scrolling through Instagram or Facebook just starts to bum you out and wishing you were doing what everyone else is, take a moment to put down the phone and re-center yourself. Make a cup of tea, watch an episode of your favorite show, or chitchat with someone else who’s home. In person. Just don’t let yourself obsess over the pictures on social media.
It’s completely normal to want some time to yourself!
Have a Great Night In
When being alone has you bummed out, it’s a great idea to remind yourself just how fun you can have all by yourself! Take a nice bath, walk the dog, and settle down to watch that TV show you love but your friends never want to watch. Or, put a new spin on some of the activities you would normally do with your buds. Buckle down in the kitchen to make cookies or brownies, or try playing a board game with a sibling or relative instead of the kids from school.
It doesn’t matter what you do to have fun, what matters is that you remember you don’t need to be with other people all the time. It’s completely normal to want some time to yourself! Whether that means reading a book, watching TV, or snuggling with your cat, the fact that other people are hanging out doesn’t mean you need to join.
When You’re Feeling Lonely
But what about the times when you don’t want to hang out at home? This is when FOMO strikes the hardest, when we see how much fun our friends are having without us and we think, “Hey, why didn’t I get invited to that?”
We get it, it’s not fun to feel left out. But what’s important is to think again about what’s going on: it’s not like your friends sat down and decided to go out without you on purpose. More likely, they just happened to all be in the same math class and go “hey let’s see a movie tonight!” or the timing of the event was something you wouldn’t have been able to attend anyway.
It’s not that your friends are out to get you, it’s just that not everyone can hang out with everyone else, every time. And that’s perfectly normal! Chances are, the last time you were hanging out with the squad, one or more of you wasn’t able to make it, not because you don’t like them, but because it just happened that way.
Try to figure out why you’re feeling so left out to begin with.
If reminding yourself that it’s okay to not be at every group gathering doesn’t work, try to figure out why you’re feeling so left out to begin with. Is it because you want to have fun? Go do something cool by yourself! Is it because you miss your friends? Set up another time to hang out with them. Or is it because you’re jealous or possessive of your friends? That’s something else to think about.
If seeing one of your friends hanging out with other people makes you feel annoyed or angry, think about what that jealousy is coming form. Remember, it’s okay for you to have different groups of friends, so it’s also okay for your friends to hang out with people besides you. If you hang out with kids from the neighborhood, that doesn’t mean you like your school friends any less, and the same goes for your friends hanging out with people besides you!