FOMO: Do You Have It?

Quick — do you know what your friends are doing right now?  As you read this, are you waiting for the ping of a new text coming in?  Are you hooked on Twitter, Instagram and FB? If so, you may suffer from FOMO.

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, has recently been identified as a phenomenon not only in the US, but worldwide (as this story about teens in South Africa and teens in India shows) and those in the “millennial generation.”  It has become such a widespread trend that this past summer Kotex even used it as a theme in its new marketing campaign citing that “94% of girls experience FOMO.”  Suffering from FOMO means constantly checking Facebook status updates and other social media sites and feeling that other people are always doing something better than whatever you’re doing.  FOMO can leave you feeling sad, left out or boring.
As social media seeps into every corner of our lives, more studies have emerged chronicling the ways in which its effects can be negative.  Generally speaking, fractured attention and lack of ability to focus are seen as the offshoots of too much online time.  But going online to “compare and despair” by reading friends’ news-feeds and then getting the sense that you’re not attending the hottest parties or having the best time can be damaging to your self-esteem, never-mind that it paints a false picture.

We all know how easy it is to leave out the bad parts when we tell a friend an anecdote about what we did last weekend. It’s deceptively simple to only post your best Instagram photo or share the night’s funniest 10 second moment in a cute tweet.  On some level, we know that’s not the whole story.  But if you’re stuck doing homework when everyone else seems to be partying, it’s impossible to not feel a stab of regret or envy.

While detaching from social media sites (at least for an hour at a time, if not longer) can help, it isn’t the entire answer. Don’t let FOMO make you feel that your choice to be with family or even have a night to yourself is less cool.  Sometimes finishing up a long homework project, practicing an instrument or cleaning your room is necessary and will feel worthwhile in the end.  So much about social media reinforces instant gratification.  Work now to identify what you value most so that FOMO doesn’t make you her slave!

Say NO to FOMO’s siren call. Don’t sleep with the phone by your side or computer on.  Try to avoid getting stressed because of what someone else claims to be doing. Don’t let it make you feel less than.  Create your own priorities and take the time for the things important to you. Breathe deeply when you feel anxious and don’t let your sense of validation come from the story you put up on your Facebook page or twitter feed.  Reframe “missing out” as “doing what I want to do” and realize how good that feels.  Don’t forget… YOLO 🙂

The Importance of Inner Confidence for Healthy Living and Self-Esteem

Guest blog by Domonique Chardon

Confidence (n.) a : a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances. b: faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.

I grew up in a tough environment, where just “being positive” about anything was not an easy task. My family life was unstable, both of my parents struggled with drug and alcohol addictions and I was extremely poor.  On top of that, I suffered from social anxiety which made me feel awkward and uncomfortable most of the time, like I didn’t fit in or belong. Sometimes I would just lay in bed and cry; cry about my life and why things were the way they were; dreading going to school for fear of running into the wrong person, who might say or do something to me that would ruin my day.  I was sad and depressed and it seemed like no one cared or noticed.

I’m not sure when a change happened, but I started to become very angry at my situation. Mad at the world and everyone around me. I wanted others to hurt like I did. I was looking for anyone to upset me, say something or challenge me; so that I could fight them and take out all the hurt I felt on them. But the anger I felt, had another unintended effect of me: out of anger, I found personal strength to march to my own beat. My angry protest became a battle-cry: I was not going to let the opinions of others bring me down; and if someone tried, I dared them to see what was going to happen if they tried to embarrass or pick on me.  And believe me I had my fair share of bullies and people who seemed to get a kick out of seeing me miserable.

What I didn’t realize is that I was relying on inner confidence.  Having this has allowed me to rise above even the worst of labels and stigmas placed on me by others. Words hurt, I cannot deny that. And unfortunately, there will always be people who will try to hurt you with their words; but I have found that you can destroy them silently with a powerful surety and inner confidence. A mental determination in which you declare that YOU ARE the master of your destiny, YOU ARE NOT what others deem you to be. Knowing this has given me not only the strength to get through difficult times, but also a personal satisfaction.

It wasn’t easy – it took a great deal of mental conditioning to get to a point where I didn’t respond with my emotions or my fists. What I realized is that life wouldn’t always be difficult, that happiness started with me. As long as I was content with the decisions I made, I didn’t owe anyone anything.  Without even knowing I was developing my inner confidence.  Although some tend may think being confident means being arrogant, boastful or conceited; I believe inner confidence means being brave and strong. It means having the ability to make my own decisions, and to test my boundaries and limits when I chose to.

Having inner confidence has been a great help to me on my personal journey and I hope it can be to you as well.

Domonique Chardon is a Bay Area Area native, young professional, aspiring writer, and spiritual being having a human experience.  Follow Domonique @domonique_007. 

Why Sarah Cuts. (The ugly side of low self-esteem)

My interview with a 16 year old cutter.

She is a 16 year old girl with the lowest self-reported self-esteem of any girl I interviewed for my book.  She had tears in her eyes the entire interview and she nearly broke my heart. I found myself struggling between interviewing her and counseling her. She didn’t see herself as smart or pretty, good at sports or anything else really. She suffers from a very bad case of negative self-talk that’s alive and well living inside her. She told me that whatever she does, she hears an inner voice telling her she isn’t good enough and to quit, which she does every time. Because of this, she can’t stick to anything long enough to get good at it, experience success and then build confidence. This is a huge factor contributing to her very low self-esteem.  It has a paralyzing effect on her and has perpetuated an unnatural fear in her for anything new. She says her friends are starting to get tired of her negative attitude and they think that she is constantly fishing for compliments. She is pushing her friends away, which makes her inner voice (or saboteur) very happy. We talked about how she was bullied in middle school for being over weight, having braces and wearing glasses… all at the same time. She has never fully recovered from the way she was treated back then, even though she has blossomed into a beauty swan. She acquired an eating disorder freshman year of high school and based on our conversation, it seems that she still struggles with anorexia. She still sees that girl from middle school when she looks in the mirror and still hears the kids calling her names. More upsetting is the cutting. She told me that she “used to cut” herself, as a way to deal with stress in her life and probably because of the self hate. In her words, it’s a way to release stress and anger. Not to mention, the inner saboteur tells her to do it. She doesn’t have a close relationship with her mother and feels it’s partially her mom’s fault for her being bullied in middle school.  She feels her mom is the direct reason why she was overweight. In addition, they fight about school work. In her words, homework seems more important to Sarah than it does to her mother. The more mom pushes her to join the family, the more this teen pulls away.  Sarah is looking for independence, but is being challenged with family pressure to be  more like them. These pressures lead to more cutting. Getting good grades seems to be the only way she feels good about herself right now, although it’s generally fleeting. Her mom doesn’t understand the sadness and negative thoughts that circle her mind, so Sarah has stopped trying to tell her about them. This is a difficult relationship brewing between mother and daughter that is far from over.