The Fear, Joy, and Sadness of Missing Out

The concept of FOMO (the fear of missing out) has been circulating for a while and has helped many people put a name on the anxiety they may feel about missing out on experiences. Some people have leaned into JOMO (the joy of missing out) as they relish more rest and peace in their lives. For me, I’ve spent such a huge amount of time stuck at home – or in bed – when I wanted to be elsewhere that I have had SOMO: the sadness of missing out.

Feeling sad about the simple things

At the moment, I’m not focusing on the big exciting stuff that I used to have SOMO about – like traveling to another country or being able to hike for an entire day. Instead, I’ve been feeling sad about smaller things. Like not getting to spend simple evenings downstairs with my family due to various health issues that have kept me in bed a lot recently.

I’ve also been feeling sad about not being able to go grocery shopping. While I’m grateful that my husband will take my list and go to the store frequently, I’m sad that I’m not doing it myself. Wandering the aisles helps me brainstorm new meal ideas. and I also miss seeing the seasonal items and being able to pick things out myself.

The sadness is harder than it used to be

I’ve missed out on things for so long now – more than 5 years – and it’s not getting easier. It’s getting harder. I’m still not used to it because I don’t want to get used to it. I want to be more involved with my family, especially my young kids.

I thought that things would improve after I got my diagnosis, or after I got a better rheumatologist, or after I tried this new treatment, etc, but things haven't improved to where I can function at the level I want to. I just keep missing out and finding it harder to cope with the fact that I’m almost always feeling sick.

It’s more poignant now as I’m missing out on things that weren’t around at this time last year. For example, my lupus support group held their annual Thanksgiving celebration and I was extra excited since it wasn’t an option to see them last year due to COVID. I hired a babysitter far in advance and did my best to plan a restful week so that I’d be able to go. But I got muggle sick (a term that some chronically ill people use for “regular” sicknesses such as having a cold) and couldn’t attend.

I also missed out on a special family event due to the same sickness, which was with a family member who I hadn’t seen in 2 years. She got married and had a baby during the pandemic and the sadness of not attending felt magnified since I didn’t get to attend the wedding or have the regular visits that would have happened if not for COVID.

Fear, joy, and sadness (but mostly sadness) of lupus

There are times that I’m afraid of missing out – like with my support group – and then feel incredibly sad if those fears come to pass. I rarely feel joyful about missing out, but I will admit to sometimes using my illness as a welcome excuse to skip something that I really didn't want to do anyway.

I was seeking out someone with similar feelings of SOMO when I came across an article by Emily Hay where she points out that challenges are often easier to handle when they are short-lived. When the difficult times seem to always be with us, which is often the case with chronically ill people, they can be much harder to deal with. Those are the moments that SOMO can start to take hold and drag us down if we aren't careful.

Personally, I hope to shift my focus from trying to physically overcome the struggles of frequently missing out and instead find better ways to mentally cope with my current reality. I’m not sure how I’ll accept it, but it would be healthier for me overall.

Have you experienced SOMO? How are you dealing with it?

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