If You Feel Afraid of Missing Out on Life

Posted on: Nov 13, 2018

My content marketing manager, Clara, is guest-blogging for us again today! I hope her words help you embrace gratitude in this season.

On my first day on the job at Elle Zimmerman World Headquarters (also known as our perfectly lovely office in Ohio), Elle told me about her vision for her next big idea.

She described to me the sense that many women have in their mid-life that there’s something more for them, a calling to be creative and to express their soul, but they’re not quite sure what it is or how to tap into it.

I’m not anywhere near my midlife (although I do get gray hairs every once and a while, but that’s beside the point), and yet I totally resonated with it. That feeling—that fear—of missing out on what I’m supposed to be doing cut through to how I often feel. It’s not quite the FOMO that some people have—I mean, of course I don’t want to miss out if all of my friends are eating sushi together, but this is a little more existential than a dinner party.

I’m less afraid of missing out on what my friends are doing and far more afraid of missing out on my own life.

What if I should be writing more?

She seems to be going after her goals so much more than I am.

Should I have gotten my master’s degree immediately following my bachelor’s?

I really should have done yoga yesterday.

Sometimes these “should” questions are fleeting, passing thoughts. Other times, they get lodged in my mind for days or weeks.

I’ve finally concluded that we live in a world of seems and shoulds. Stick with me here: We often don’t know what other people’s lives are like outside of what it seems to be through their Instagram or Facebook feed, but we feel a gnawing sense that we should be experiencing life more fully than we are.

The “seems” of other people’s lives and the “shoulds” of our own lives are paralyzing our ability to really live.

When we mistakenly buy into the idea that there is some kind of predestined fate that we could miss unless we make the exact right choices, we trap ourselves in the world of seems and shoulds.

So here’s the hard truth I’ve arrived at: The only way I’ll actually miss out on my own life is when I get caught in wondering what I should do rather than just doing it.

If you’re also afraid of missing out on your own life, here’s how to find peace.

1. Surrender to reality.

Here’s the truth: you are missing out on every single thing that is happening on planet earth except for the very moment you are experiencing. Sometimes that’s a cruise on the French Riviera, other times, that’s pumping gas on a rainy day in suburbia.

You are going to miss out, and that’s okay. The goal is to not miss out on anything lovely that’s right in front of you.

2. Just do it.

I’m totally writing this to myself here, but instead of thinking about whether you should take a yoga class, ask that person to get coffee, or start a book club, do it. Go ahead: send the text, sign up or commit before you can think about it for too long. This, of course, is a better strategy with short-term commitments than long-term ones. By all means, think it through before you move to another continent!

The point here is that I’m painfully good at finding excuses and reasoning myself out of doing the things I feel nudged to do, but I almost always feel better when I think less and do more.

3. Buy yourself flowers.

Sometimes, being present and mindful can’t just be a mindset. If you’re feeling discontent and distant, it’s almost impossible to shift your attitude by sheer force of will. That’s where habits come in.

In college, I had a Saturday ritual of going to the local farmer’s market to buy myself fresh flowers, even if I couldn’t find a friend to go with me. No matter how stressful my week was or how much I wished I were back in London again, buying myself flowers was a discipline that gave me a tangible way to be present and value myself.

4. Make something.

As I write this, I’m in the home stretch of preparing for my upcoming wedding. Although wedding planning has a certain kind of creativity involved, it’s not the creativity that my soul needs. Writing out my thoughts, practicing hand lettering or dabbling photography has the ability to make me feel whole and alive in a way that checking boxes can’t.

Here at Elle Zimmerman HQ, we believe that creativity is the missing piece to emptiness or discontent. Seems and shoulds disappear when you’re expressing your heart in a variety of creative ways.

5. Practice gratitude.

Really, this all boils down to gratitude. When you take the time to stop and look around at your life, breathing in each moment, you won’t have the headspace to be afraid of missing out anymore. In this season of Thanksgiving, I challenge you to make this your season of Thanksgiving—of ignoring the seems and shoulds echoing in your head and standing in this beautiful moment and in each one to follow.

If you feel like you’re missing out on life, it’s not time to change your life: it’s time to be grateful for it.