Freedom from #FOMO, Even With Chronic Illness

party food berries and drinks

Do you ever look at other people’s lives (as displayed on social media) and feel you are missing out? That your life too could be beautiful, perfectly placed, fun and meaningful, if only you were doing it right, or not doing something wrong. Or something….

#FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is real for so many people. It’s especially challenging if you are feeling excluded for reasons of disability, accessibility, discrimination or exclusion, if you have caring responsibilities and those aren’t supported (e.g no time off for caring roles or creche or childcare provided).

I can’t make it ok, I know. But I can share how I handle living a life free of FOMO:

Highlight reel v.s behind the scenes

Social media can be wonderful and beautiful. It connects us, inspires us, includes us and allows us to be involved, to stay in touch with loved ones, to witness and support events unfolding across the world, from our own beds.

But social media can also be tricky. It grew as personal sharing, but so often it’s commodified. Those gorgeous photos you see…may not have been snapped with someone’s smart phone. There may be lighting, a photographer, hair and make up people, and a stylist.

Someone may have spent hours planning and curating those designs. And that’s ok.

But if we compare the results of all that work, (even the ‘natural, casual, lifestyle’ shots), to our own actual-in-person lifestyle, it’s easy to feel less-than.

(And quite frankly, we often have many people/systems already telling us we are less-than. We don’t need any more.)

When I find myself in this situation, I think, ‘don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel’. You don’t know what it’s like in reality. And their social media isn’t an unedited, behind-the-scenes version of their reality.

All those sneek peaks and #nomakeup selfies may be carefully curated. It’s like ballet, part of the art is making it look easy.

When you look at a magazine or a television show, you recognise that it is probably photo-shopped, or styled or scripted. You don’t expect ‘real life’, which is too beautiful and painful, terrifying and frustrating, glorious and messy to look like those glossy images.

What happens if we extend this to view social media too? How would that impact your use? Why not try it for a day and see how it feels?

Bad things happen to everyone, we are just familiar with our own

Few people share their bad hair days, small dream losses, daily trials and tribulations on social media. Because of this, we often see the only good times. And it can feel everyone else is singing and swinging their way from strength to strength. Or that nothing ever happens to them, not illness or burning the toast or anything painful.

But we likely don’t know what it’s like for other people, because we aren’t them. We can think we know and they can act like they are sharing everything with us. But sharing everything is a tall order and happens less often than we might suppose.

There are people who seem to have lives which go swimmingly. People who plan their year knowing their health will likely be the same at the beginning as at the end. They can make plans, you see. And you, maybe, feel like you can’t make plans, because of flares and caring and all the other struggles that you balance daily.

Here’s the thing, they can’t make plans either. No one knows what will happen. Their plans are like yours, just hopes. Yet you have a good idea of what your main challenge will be, where your vulnerabilities are, because you work with them daily.

For me, I know energy and mobility are a challenge. Does it stop me doing things I would otherwise do? Sort of, I have to change my priorities and do things in different ways.

Does it give me good information about the part of a plan that’s vulnerable (the energy and mobility part), so I can make plans for contingencies? Yes, it does.

It’s not necessarily worse for me, I just have more information on my upcoming challenges.

How does it feel to reframe your challenges as advanced information? Does this change how you make plans?

I’m Happy at Home

We aren’t always happy at home. But if we are living a life we love, living well and doing work or creation that’s meaningful to us then it may matter less if we ‘miss out’.

Because we aren’t missing out because we can’t get somewhere, but because we are prioritising our own loves, passions and lives.

A good life is still possible, if we re-invent our dreams.

That’s the ethos of my new ebook, Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom & Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition. You can check it out here and get an ebook, an audio book version and free bonus interviews and printable goodies.

What’s your top tip for managing FOMO? Let me know in the comments.