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  • Jessica Harris


We live in a drinking centric culture and there is no way to avoid being around it. Friends and social events will still happen and will most likely revolve around alcohol. Vacations in particular seem to be trigger for drinking for many people and probably because it is so accessible. Many resorts offer a free glass of champagne when you are checking in, host enticing happy hours with fancy libations, hire attentive employees by the pool to refill drinks all day, and stock refrigerators in the room full of beer and booze. In fact, I surveyed a group of my friends on social media and approximately 80% drink alcohol while vacationing. 66% of these people choose to drink because it feels celebratory and they feel it helps them relax. The rest seem to like pairing cocktails with food. So what if you don’t like to drink? What if you are choosing not to drink? We live in a boozy world and not drinking means you are opting out of an activity that many people consider essential to having fun.

Are you missing out?

FOMO is a real thing!

In 2013 the word FOMO (Fear of missing out) was officially added to the Oxford Dictionary. FOMO is the anxious feeling or apprehension that can arise when you feel other people might be having exciting experiences that you are not a part of. FOMO causes you to feel like you need to stay connected at all times with what others are doing even if those things might not be how you really want to spend your time. FOMO is self invented and can psychologically torture you and tempt you into saying yes to something simply because you fear you are missing out. For example a few tweens in my life said they experience FOMO when they have this strong urge to grab their phone every time they hear the SnapChat ding even though they were perfectly happy watching a movie with their family. A 65 year old woman felt FOMO when she felt this desire to spontaneously plan a trip to the Caribbean because she saw a friend’s amazing pictures on Facebook even though she knew she doesn’t have enough money for the trip.

FOMO can be crippling because it can skew decision-making and cause you to make choices you may not otherwise want to make. You may spend more money, give up time with a loved one, or treat your body poorly. FOMO can keep you from actually experiencing what is happening in the moment. You may choose an experience and find that it loses significance or lasting meaning. You may choose something that only provides a temporary feeling of pleasure. While pleasure is great, obsessing about it can keep you from experiencing a deeper fulfillment.

My moment of FOMO

I had a moment of FOMO recently when Rick and I won a pretty awesome contest. The grand prize includes a two-night stay at our favorite local resort, tickets to a boozy event, and free dinners at an amazing restaurant. Our special staycation is coming up next weekend and for some reason I keep thinking about how much I am going to miss drinking alcohol during this particular trip. It has been pretty smooth sailing-avoiding alcohol at social events and staycations up until this point but it is different this time. This resort has so many external triggers because it is gorgeous, lush, and romantic. You can't help but want to casually drink in all the cute little lush nooks and private patios. I have so many emotions tied to romantic stays we have had at this place such as celebrating our 15-year wedding anniversary enjoying poolside drinks, champagne, wine, cigars and good food.

In the social media survey I mentioned earlier, I included a description of the boozy event we will be attending as part of our prize. Respondents felt that 80% of the guests at the event will be drinking. Oh my! If that ends up being accurate, Rick and I will fall into the 20% of sober folks. Will we stick out like sore thumbs? Based on the description alone, almost half of the respondents felt they would have a moderate amount to great deal of FOMO with this event. I obviously fall into that group of people but not because I fear missing the event, but that I fear not being able to drink at the event.

On the flip side, I think it is super cool that 26% of respondents said they would have zero FOMO related to this event and 59% of respondents would still attend the event even if they can’t drink. That is so cool to see so many people don’t fear what they are missing!

So how do you avoid FOMO?

  • Take time to savor the moment. Rather than rush through an experience or an event in quest for the next thrill, take time to stop and smell the roses.

  • Focus less on potential losses of missing out and more on the gains of what you are actually doing. Knowing yourself well enough to understand what actually makes you happy, and that just because something makes someone else happy, doesn’t mean it will do the same for you!

  • Remind yourself there is no such thing as perfection. There is no perfect travel destination, perfect restaurant, or perfect party.

  • Stop and ask yourself if the thing you fear you are missing is something you really wished you were doing? Reflect and be honest with yourself.

  • Determine if the experience is something you can actually do at that moment. Do you have the money, will you be abandoning an important person, and do you have viable means?

  • Pause and think about cause and effect. If you drink all night your likely to have a hangover the next day. If you spend thousands of dollars on a vacation you may not be able to pay your mortgage.

  • Question whether drinking make the situation any better? No, in fact, it will almost always make it worse!

  • Channel your inner confidence and vocalize that you are comfortable with the thought of missing out. Proclaim to the world that you are living life on your terms and making your own decisions!

Flipping my FOMO

I can’t help but think that instead of fearing what I am missing out on during this trip, I really should be fearing what I missed out a long time ago.

Maybe doing this trip sober means I will actually be present and experience my vacation in a new way. Maybe I will see things, hear things, smell things and taste things I missed during our other visits to this resort.

Maybe I will feel stronger romance because I will be soaking in every minute with my husband.

I know there will be obstacles like free champagne, open bar during the event, crowds partying at the pool, and wine glasses on the table at dinner. I will just plan some fun refreshing mocktails, drink non-alcoholic drinks in fancy glasses, and put my energy into getting dressed up pretty for nice meals, relaxing at the spa, reading my book, enjoying good food, and spending quality time with Rick.

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