I’m sure a lot of you have heard of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and I can say I am quite often one to get this. The life of a separated parent makes this a common occurrence. The problem with anxiety though is even if I get to be out I often find myself quite fearful. I go from Fear Of Missing Out to Fear Of Being Out a.k.a FOBO. Now I can have planned a great night with great people but that does not mean my mind will stay quiet.
For example, on a recent evening out I wore a dress (unusual for me) and as soon as I left the house started worrying that people would judge me and think I looked stupid and wished I had worn jeans instead. If I wear heels I worry I am going to trip. When I see the person I’m meeting I say “I know I look a mess” to preempt their thoughts and make them think “Well at least she knows and is owning it”. If I’m in a restaurant with lots of people I worry about them judging the way I eat. I worry I’ll eat slower than anyone else and they’ll have to awkwardly wait for me. If tables are too close I worry people will be listening to me talking to my friends and judge. If I’m in the middle of a restaurant I will feel like all eyes will be on me if I get up to go to the toilet.
I’ll give you a specific recent scenario. I went out wearing a dress and slight heels and ended up going for dinner at a posh (er than I’m used to) restaurant. My thoughts:
People are looking at me…I look stupid in this dress…But at least I look more dressed up for this level of posh…Whoah yeah this is too classy for me…What if I eat badly and people are disgusted by my table manners..Oh no the tables are so close together…I don’t like being this close to other people…Oh menu…Mind, please stop panicking so I can read…Oh yay…French…What is this food?… I did French…I can’t believe my French has got so bad…Okay breathe! You need to order…What do you even want?…My stomach is too knotted to even eat now…You can’t order nothing. That will look weird and make you stand out even more…I want to get out of here…My heart is racing and I can’t breathe…But if I try and leave that will be rude. Plus the tables are so close together and the exit is a walk away and it will cause a scene. That would be worse…Okay just keep sipping your water…Sip…Breathe…Sip…Reply woman!…”I’m fine. Just tired. So much to choose from”…Smile woman smile!!…Sip…Breathe…Sip…Breathe…
I ended up drinking so much water before ordering and ordering the same as my boyfriend praying he didn’t see the panic on my face. I did calm down but I hated how even just going out could cause me so much stress. Anxiety can try and ruin even the nicest times. I love being out with people but sometimes the thought of it is even too much. And I know I am nowhere near the only victim of FOBO.
So if a friend declines your invitation to hang out to spend time lounging about and watching Netflix it is not your fault. I wish I could be more confident and happy going out but sometimes the constant worries running through my mind is exhausting. It is also a reason to be kinder to the people you see out and about because you don’t know what is going on inside their head. Slowly we will conquer this FOBO but for now who’s up for a movie night at home??