Is your teen experiencing FOMO?
One thing that struck me at the beginning of this new school year is the similarity between all my clients : what is commonly called FOMO.
I work with high schoolers, college students and adults on time-management, procrastination, commitment, keeping them on track, managing and recovering from failures, finding the perspective that keep them moving, career orientation…. From one client to another it’s always different! They are from all around the world from Poland to San Francisco passing by Martinique, New York or Illinois. They have different ages, backgrounds, interests, dreams and goals.
So how are they similar?
In 2013 the word “FOMO” was officially added to the Oxford Dictionary. This clever acronym, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out, was coined to describe that anxious feeling that can arise when you feel there is a more exciting prospect that is happening elsewhere — and unfortunately, you’re not there. Surprisingly it is not a disease of the 21st century. Montesquieu (17th-18th century) once said: “if one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are” John, 25, has been failing his classes for years now because there is always something more fun/enjoyable/interesting elsewhere, causing anxiety, procrastination, disappointment and the feeling that he “still runs after the train his peers took a while ago”. Keith, 20, can’t choose between several appealing social events because some of his friends will have fun without him, causing frustration, resentment, anger. Marie, 17, doesn’t know which college to apply to because “my best friend is going to London, my boyfriend is heading to Colorado and my dream is to go back to Paris to be a photographer, but it will be boring because I don’t know anybody there anymore and they will have so much fun without me!” resulting in indecision, loneliness and insecurity!
FOMO often originates in unhappiness.
A few things I do with John, Keith and Marie
Re-define their priority, what do they really want.
Set specific, measurable and reachable goals to gain confidence.
Become aware of the benefits of achieving one's goals.
Manage that inner voice that's constantly nagging them with all the other amazing thing they could be doing instead.
Getting over jetlag. Like taking yourself to the chiropractor, you need to get realigned every so often, especially when you’re making big changes in your life.
What can you say if your teen is experiencing FOMO?
Focus more on the gains of what you actually have: Attention and Gratitude. Look around. What good things might you be taking for granted? Home? Family? Friends? Now take a couple of seconds to imagine those were taken away from you. How would you feel?
Practice meditation or mindfulness (to enjoy what you are doing in the here and now, instead of yearning for what else could be): look inward instead of outward.
Learn to limit your activity on social media. Find a time of day that works for you to catch up with FB/Instagram/Snapshat…. And stick to it.