Last week, I wrote about the phenomenon of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. We’ve all been there—deep in the abyss of self-pity, nervous that all our friends are gathered without us, having the time of our lives.
The example in question was a quiet Friday night. You may choose to stay in and take a load off, but a barrage of Facebook status updates showing your BFFs having a grand ol’ time can make you regret that choice.
After I wrote this post, I got a call from a friend. “I don’t really care if I miss out,” she said. “I just want to be invited.”
And later: “I want my friends to want my company. It’s important to me to be included. But to actually have to go out on a Friday? Ugh. No thank you.”
This gets at something very real. The knowledge that my friends are at a concert doesn’t affect me if I’ve turned down said concert for a quiet night in. But when I hear, after the fact, that some pals went on an adventure without me—without even inviting me—that’s when my inner over-sensitive 4th grader comes out to pout.
Despite having felt the sting of the “unvitation” before, I have been guilty of imposing this feeling on others. A few years ago, I told a friend I was thinking of having a small birthday dinner on that Saturday night. She mentioned she’d be at a wedding. So when I sent the email invitation—it was a low-key affair—I left her off the list. I knew she couldn’t make it.
Fast forward a few days and you know what happened: My pal was mad at me for leaving her out.
“But I knew you couldn’t come!” I said.
“Still, it would have been nice if you included me.”
Rationally, I believe to this day that I didn’t do anything wrong. She told me she couldn’t come, so what was the point of inviting her? It was as if I was supposed to pretend she hadn’t already informed me the other plans. But I should have known better. The human brain isn’t always rational, and when it comes to friends I’ve learned we must honor irrational emotions more than logic. I guess that’s part of the whole friendship gig. Not everything is based on reason.
After this incident, I got nervous planning wedding events. I had two showers—my mother-in-law threw one and my aunt the other—and didn’t want to invite my friends to both because I didn’t want them to feel guilty for not coming. Or obligated to buy gifts. But I also didn’t want them to feel left out. Ugh, being a girl can be so complicated.
My solution? A simple email. I wrote, “I’m having two showers, one in NYC and one in Boston. If any of you think you might come to either one, let me know as I’d love to have you there. But absolutely no pressure, and if you’re not local I wouldn’t want you to feel like you need to travel or buy a gift, so just let me know and I won’t even send an invite.” There’s no perfect plan, but this worked for me.
So, what say you? Do you fear missing out? Or are you happy to miss out, as long as you get the invite? Or is all this hullabaloo just a product of adults being too sensitive and over-analytical? ‘Cause personally, I think that might be it.