Sitting across my girlfriend at Starbucks, I had an overwhelming feeling something was not quite right; a stirring deep within as if a mean girl were taunting, “I know something you don’t!”
As she discussed the latest about her family, I realized I’d become vacant.
“What’s wrong with me?” I wondered, finding myself distracted.
Fidgeting in my seat, the answer suddenly came – my phone hadn’t rung or beeped with the sound of a text the entire time we were together.
“Excuse me,” I said, as we took a sip of our coffee. “I need to check my messages.”
Rummaging through the black hole I call my purse, I pushed aside gum wrappers, lipsticks, pens, glasses, and finally my wallet, then went pale.
“Are you Ok? You don’t look so good?” she asked, noticing my discomfort.
While trying to mask my fear with a fake smile, I unexpectedly blurted, “I can’t find my phone.”
Sitting back with her cup to her lips, she began to giggle. “You obviously have a severe case of FOMO.”
“Fear of missing out. It’s actually a word that describes us voyeurs who incessantly stalk people on Facebook to find out what they’re up to, but then discover ourselves depressed because their lives look better than our’s.”
“I don’t do that!”
“Maybe, but right now you think people want you and you’re terrified you’ve missed something important.”
Wiping the sweat beading on my forehead, I took a deep breath to relieve the building anxiety. She was right. Ever since my cell phone became glued to my hip, as if it were a third leg, I panic when it’s not near.
“I’m sorry. My focus should have been on you.”
Patting my hand, she consoled, “No worries, honey. I’m the same way.”
Going back to my office at Alain Pinel Realtors, I found my lifeline to the world sitting on my desk. Quickly grabbing it, I turned it on and instantly became horrified: nobody wanted me. Nobody called, texted or emailed. The entire world had left me alone for an hour and a half, and I didn’t take advantage of the time.
I think it’s safe to say technology has taken over our lives. Everywhere we go, people’s heads are down reading emails, looking at their Facebook and Twitter accounts, or shopping online. It’s as if aliens from another planet snatched our true selves and replaced us with zombie-like creatures with bent necks and hunched over shoulders, electronic gizmo in hand. And, sadly, it’s not just the adults. The younger generation is far worse. They never put them down nor do they look you in the eye when having a conversation.
Realizing I’d become too consumed with being available at all times, not just for my clients but everyone, I decided a change was in order: leave the phone behind for at least an hour a day.
At first, it wasn’t easy. Itching to check-in, my mind became anxiety-ridden. But, once I made peace with its absence, a miraculous thing happened – I found myself to be more present.
Now, I shop with a clear intention of what I need to buy without dealing with a Tweet. I hike with serenity because I’m not reading an email, and when I share time with friends and family, I’m all in. That day taught me something very important – with a switch to my routine, the fear of missing out became the thrill of missing out for I become connected with what truly matters, the here and now. And, nothing gets better than that.
Have you ever found yourself missing out? How did you handle it. I’d love to hear.