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Writing by Haylee Penfold // Illustration by Michaelanne Foster

Writing by Haylee Penfold // Illustration by Michaelanne Foster

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out; anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere—without you. Often leads individuals to do things just to avoid “FOMO” instead of due to genuine interest.

Basically, FOMO is like YOLO’s bitter cousin that no one really likes.

YOLO (You Only Live Once) is about living life to the fullest—while FOMO is sneakily the complete opposite—it’s overthinking the situation you’re in because you might not be elsewhere for something great.

Unfortunately, due to social media, FOMO is particularly cruel these days; if you miss out on something, you’ll see the photos on Instagram, the posts on Facebook (and maybe even the rare tweet), making it hard to escape the jealousy of what you missed out on.

Being in high school, I’ve had my fair share of FOMO experiences. I’ve always been an anxious person, so being an overthinker makes my case of FOMO a little harder to deal with.

Now that I’m getting older, there’s more and more parties happening. The thing is though, I hate crowds, Being around intoxicated people puts me on edge; being in a place I’m not familiar with makes my hands sweat. So parties aren’t exactly my favourite thing in the world. At the same time, I hate missing out, my friends love parties, and I want to have a good time with my friends.

I hate regret. I hate jealousy. I hate FOMO.

So, there was a time I stayed home whilst my friends went out to a party and I hated it. I felt the angry jealousy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I scrolled through the posts on Instagram of what I was missing out on. The Monday afterwards, all I heard about was the party “everyone” went to. I regretted staying at home in my elephant onesie binge watching Teen Wolf whilst my friends were having the time of their lives, I was jealous that they could be in a party of over forty people and not feel at all anxious. I hated FOMO.

But in all honesty, I’ve found that most of the time, when you think you’re missing out on the greatest night of your life, it’s not all it seems to be. So, when looking at photos posted on social media, try to remember the photo isn’t the whole story and in reality, what you’ve missed out on was most likely an average experience and not something exciting and extravagant like it’s made out to be.

Take, for example, the party I was so bummed to miss—I later found out that a drunk guest vomited on my best friend’s favourite dress and left it stained of the rotten smell (and that wasn’t even the worst of the horror stories of the night!), so I was glad I stayed home.

I’ve accepted that I can’t quite handle big parties as of yet, but I can do something else I really enjoy in the meantime and not feel sorry for myself that I’m not at the same place as other people in my grade. Because what I’ve learnt is that life isn’t about thinking about what others are doing and what you’re missing out on, it’s about living in the moment and cherishing what you have going on in the now.

Haylee Penfold

Haylee Penfold, she/her, is a twenty something, chronic illness advocate who is passionate about all things sex education and pleasure positivity. Will also bring up Harry Styles in any context she can.

Michaelanne Foster

Michaelanne Foster is an illustrator who currently resides in Southern Spain. She teaches English, paints, and eats lots of tapas, of course. See her work on her website.


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