FOMO a.k.a. The Fear of Missing Out – it's a worldwide phenomenon taking millennials by storm. While many believe that it’s something only schoolchildren experience, being excluded as an adult can be just as hurtful.
The fear can be traced back to a point in one’s past, as young as a kindergartener. No one wants to be labelled as an outcast where you are often overlooked and eventually forgotten. When we think back to our early school years, most of us can remember the painful experience of being excluded once in our lives. It may have been not getting an invitation to a party at McDonald's, or being left out of a game because you're terrible at the sport.
You would think that being excluded would be an experience that disappears over time. As we get older and wiser, we become more thoughtful and inclusive, right? Unfortunately, past demons can always resurface. Yet, the gift of age also provides you with a certain edge – maturity and mobility – that allows you to combat such incidents more efficiently.
1. Ask yourself if it really matters
Denying that something bothers us only extends its impact. I had a mini-rant to my very impartial friend regarding an incident which saw me being left out of an acquaintance’s birthday celebration, who said, "Who cares? I wouldn't go to her birthday party and I won't to pay $100 for dinner with someone I don't care about. It's a free pass because there's no excuse required!"
His response struck a chord because it was true. I probably wouldn't have really wanted to go anyway and deep down I didn't want to spend that much on someone I don't enjoy spending my time with. Yes, I was disappointed. But in truth, the sting diminished as I put more thought into it.
2. Find your own group of friends
Look for people with similar interests as you. It's easier to share a bond with people who have the same likes (and dislikes).
3. Seek professional advice if feeling excluded persists in your adult life
While unresolved feelings from the past can get in the way of you living your life to the fullest extent, present-day issues will only exacerbate your predicament. There might be things getting in the way of you leading a healthy social life that you are not aware of. Receiving therapy will help you face your feelings and might also help you understand yourself better.
4. Invite the group who excluded you
The atmosphere at a bar is more chill than being in the office, and this helps you get to know your colleagues better. For starters, you can ask your colleagues to celebrate a work anniversary or a completed project. Once you break through that initial wall, it’ll be easier tfor you to be considered as part of their social circle.
Having a group of friends to call your own might seem like nothing more than playground politics, but it is important to remember that humans are creatures that require social interaction to thrive. Hanging out, shooting the breeze, laughing at ridiculous stuff – that’s what pals are for!