FOMO Is The New Kiasu

Aiyoh, free gift doesn’t mean must take right?” I always laughed at my parents for being kiasu, until I realised I was kiasu in my own way. Reflecting on years of unhappiness, I realised FOMO was the main driver of my life.

I lived fearing what I would miss out on, rather than what I truly wanted. It’s no different from  the old lady who can suddenly sprint because her bus might drive off. Somehow, we have difficulty believing the next bus will come soon enough.

We have a limited view of the world and clamber for things, because we fear losing out. FOMO has successfully been passed from generation to generation in Singapore.

Also read:

We Asked 20 Singaporean Millennials About Their Biggest Fears in Life

Social media breeds a FOMO culture and makes us kiasu

To make things worse, social media is built on FOMO. Why else would we be neurotically checking our feeds? We want to know who is having a lot of fun without us (or at least I do)!

When I see friends surfing in Bali or having delicious desserts in a Monocle-worthy cafe, a voice goes off in my head.

“Why aren’t you there? Why are you not having as much fun as them?”

Maybe I didn’t work hard enough to deserve all that fun and attention. Sad!

I identified with a NUSWhispers FOMO sufferer while scrolling through the confessions page one day:

“For the past few months, I have unfollowed almost all the people who worsened my anxiety and depression problems from social medias [sic]. That include [sic] people who were very rich, very “successful”, very good looking, very popular, living a high life.

What’s the point of me viewing those posts that exacerbate my FOMO feeling. Okay you are very successful, okay you are very rich, okay you have a very good family, okay you live in a landed property, okay you live in a condo, okay you got a free scholarship to sponsor your studies, okay you got 10k a month job, okay you are interning in Big4 or Silicon Valley.”


Recognising FOMO can help you overcome it

For a long time, I didn’t realise what I was experiencing was FOMO. I just thought it was a waste to sleep on a Saturday night when you could be partying. My friends were having a blast partying to Flo Rida songs and I didn’t want to miss out.

FOMO had become a lens by which I saw the world, making me hyper aware of how I’m missing out on something great and I could have had more.

Needing to buy a fitness pass because of a discount? FOMO. Postponing sleep to watch videos? FOMO. Feeling jealous of my friend’s Tanjong Beach club outing? FOMO.

Constantly judging myself by how much I missed out made me feel inadequate and stressed out. So now, I’ll be glad that I missed out instead, in exchange for a peace of mind.


Let go of FOMO and enjoy JOMO

A new term, JOMO: the joy of missing out, has already been coined.     

When you let go of FOMO, you realise what you truly possess, the here and now.

In other words, when we stop obsessing over what could be better or improved in our lives, we take a breather and appreciate how far we’ve already come.

As Miley Cyrus sings,

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb.”

Life’s a climb, but the view is great if we don’t think about where else we should be.

Also read:

Blue Tick Anxiety: Why Being Blue Ticked On WhatsApp No Longer Upsets Me

Cover illustration by Asher Mak