How to Deal with FOMO

Lezzzzbehonest, my biggest fear when I left to live abroad for the first time was the FOMO - fear of missing out. I remember my first night in Madrid, when my parents dropped me off and left me for a year in a country where I didn't know a single soul. I was in tears, and getting on Instagram that evening made it worse. My friends were making damn sure they were having the most awesome parties and going to the coolest concerts and events and I felt like it was just right there in my face. What in the world did I just do? 

Leaving my friends and family behind was unbelievably difficult, especially knowing that I would be missing out on a whole year of football games, classes, Thanksgiving dinners, birthday parties, tailgates, graduations, 4th of July-s, and family reunions. 

Saying goodbye to my friends was hard, but I kept repeating to myself that everything would be fine when I got home. 

And it was. 

Missing tailgates, sorority functions, and birthday parties is a small price to pay for the experiences I had when I studied in Spain, but it doesn't make it any less difficult. FOMO is very real. And it is perpetuated by social media. I swear that if Facebook and Instagram weren't around when I left (and if I wasn't so co-dependent on it), I would have had a much easier time in dealing with separation. But the harsh reality is that it exists. And it is one of the worst things to happen to travel since EasyJet's one bag policy. 

So what do you do?

1.) Unplug sometimes.

Unplugging from social media for a while averts your attention from those average parties, mediocre concerts, and un-fun tailgates that you're missing out on. By distancing yourself from, you allow yourself some relief from thinking about what everyone is doing without you.

2.) But not always!

The ~*~*~*great thing~*~*~* about social media is how easy it is to keep in touch and swap stories, so that you aren't completely in the dark when you come back.  I'm lucky in that I had friends near enough to me that I didn't feel so left out. Regular Skype dates, Viber calls with my parents, and avenues like Twitter and Facebook do make it much easier to keep in contact than when you had to communicate via carrier pigeon/MySpAcE before the year 2005. 

Hearing fun stories from home can make it worse, but it also can make you feel like you're there. And staying in contact will assure that you can pick up right where you left off right when you get home.

3.) Meet new people.

This is your one shot to meet awesome new people and make all your friends from home have FOMO about your life!!!!!!!!! So do it!

4.) Find your little slices of home while you're abroad.

 I was lucky when I studied abroad in that a lot of my friends also studied abroad at the same time. Regular meetups in random countries, visits to each others host countries, and backpacking adventures can give you a little taste of what it's like at home, and you'll realize that they're "missing out" on the same things that you are - you're not alone. Even if they're just an acquaintance, there's comfort in seeing familiar face. 

5.) Do cool stuff.

This is your chance to be cool and do cool things that nobody else is doing. Keeping yourself busy with badass stuff will distract you from the things you're "missing" from home. Being abroad means taking in another country, absorbing the culture, learning the lifestyle - so even when you're not super busy, keep yourself distracted with all the incredible things around you. 

Which brings me to my next point..... 

6.) YOLO.

Life's too short to cry over the CEO's and Office Hoes themed party that you missed. You're abroad. Your friends are probably looking at your life with jealousy and FOMO - so you'd be feeling it either way. People have been suffering from FOMO since the beginning of time (us millennials just have a word for it), and they have survived. The only thing that's different is that the evil gods brought us Facebook from the depths of hell, and we're all addicted to looking at peoples seemingly perfect lives. 

It's the worst advice but the best advice I have is to stop caring. You are having the time of your life in a new place with new people. The people that matter will be there with open arms when you return, and yeah, you may have to catch up on a few epic stories, but you'll have a million of your own to share.