About the fear of missing out

Blogging as therapy

Throughout writing my first few blog posts I realized that the procedure of formulating thoughts in written language can have a therapeutic effect. In this process things that in the beginning might have only existed in my mind become a new reality. Sometimes I realize that I am a hypocrite, but at other times I think it helps to concretize problems I am currently struggling with. Putting it out there, written in words, can be the first step of accepting that this behavior is part of me.

What is the fear of missing out

I just recently discovered this term (#fomo as my fellow millennials call it) and had a major realization, because this term put a name to the problem I had been struggling with in the previous weeks and still am. As you might know, I am currently doing an exchange semester in Spain and as part of that, I am participating in a lot of “cool” activities.

But so often I find myself catching myself having thoughts like the following: “Is this activity not much cooler as what I am doing right now?”, “Everyone is going there, I also have to go”, “What if I don’t do this right now?”, “Could I not be at a better place right now?”. I feel like I am losing time doing one activity, which I might actually really enjoy, as I could be doing something much better in the meantime. But it turns out that all of this makes me actually miss out.


I started this trip with so many expectations, plans and ideas that I want to realize. So often I find myself fearing that I am not able to accomplish a certain goal and, because of that the whole trip is supposed to be a failure. I imagine myself having to answer questions of my friends and family like: “You were in San Sebastián and didn’t try surfing? Man, you really should have tried it…”.

In my mind exists a clear prototype of an exchange semester and all the cornerstones it should include. Through stories, movies, social media and human descriptions of experiences, in general, I sometimes get the idea that my experiences should be exactly the same. When I am at a certain place I am supposed to do a certain thing or have a certain state of mind. But the open question remains, why should my experience be exactly the same as in the story that I have heard of or in the Instagram picture that I have seen? Why is my experience worse if it is not like that?

To be honest I do not really understand the origin of these expectations. A science inspired explanation could be that in human evolution it was essentially important for us to be able to predict the outcome of new situations just by receiving intel from other members of your tribe. In general, our mind is an amazing predictor, but sometimes I am not sure whether it is up to the challenge anymore nowadays. After all, we do not live in the stone age, so I think in our society we have the privilege to overcome irrational expectations. At least we should learn to deal with them a bit better, because of the vast variety of opportunities and information sources we have.

Realize that what you have is pretty amazing

While this phrase might sound flat and empty to you, it is mainly directed at me. It is directed at this paradox wanting of more and more, even though I am at such a beautiful place right now. I want to enjoy the little things and also It is a reminder that I should stay true to my ideals. It is an appreciation of all the amazing people I met so far on this trip. But most importantly it is the permission to not follow the exchange year bucket list.

Beautiful basque country nature. Enjoy where you are right now!

5 years ago

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