'I was happy for my mates to be gallivanting around Europe. But then they started posting pictures.'

Listen to this story being read by Shannen Findlay, here. 

It started with a picture posted on Instagram. 

My housemate and best friend's sly smile stared back at me through the screen. It wouldn't have been an out-of-the-ordinary photo if the Roman Colosseum wasn't peaking out behind him.

While I sat in my bedroom, with the only light coming from the app up on my phone, my best friend was on the other side of the world basking under the Italian sun.

A few days later, he was joined by two of my other best friends who are also my housemates. They ventured the cobblestone streets of Spain, sipped beer underneath the Eiffel Tower and danced their way through the Amsterdam Pride Parade until 7:30am the next morning. 

All while I was alone in the house we shared.

Watch: Tips for savvy travellers. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

I saw a number of our mutual friends at a house party the next weekend. They all asked why I hadn't gone to Europe with them – after all, we'd been housemates and best mates for years. Had I been left out? Excluded? Was there something going on that they might need to be worried about?


The answer was always a firm no. The timing hadn't worked out for me, I told them. Work was hectic, and I had a family trip planned for later in the year. 

Besides, it was just Europe, right? My friends would still be my friends whenever they were finished gallivanting around the world, right? Perhaps a little different and a little more tanned – but still my friends... Right? 

If I'm being honest, the sinking feeling hadn't really begun when my best friend posted a picture in Italy, or when the other shared several snaps of the food on their plates each day. It had actually started months before. 

We'd been eating dinner together on our couch and they were talking, incessantly, about what they planned to do while they were in the Netherlands, Spain, Paris and London. I listened quietly but my heart was beating. Loud. 

This was a conversation I wasn't a part of – one I couldn't be part of, even if I wanted to. Sure, I'd survive happily while they traversed their way through some of the world's most beautiful countries, but what about when they came home with all their new and exciting memories that didn't include me? 

The thought made my heart quench. I was dealing with a major bout of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). How to shake the feeling? I didn't really know.


It's difficult to admit when you're jealous of those you love. It's even harder to accept that it's absolutely no one else's responsibility except your own that you feel that way. 

But, I like to think I'm the type of person who is quick to accept reality, so I decided to make a plan. Maybe not a fool-proof one, but a plan nonetheless. 

Here's what I did to combat my serious case of FOMO. 

1. I made my own plans to spend time with people. 

There were plenty of friends I hadn't seen in months, so I decided the best way to make use of my time was to spend it with them. 

I planned a "girls' night" where we drank wine, made homemade pizza and gossiped until we couldn't keep our eyes open anymore.

I went to new clubs and bars and had so much fun of my own that I wasn't thinking about what my mates were doing in Europe. I opted to work in the office as much as possible too, so I wouldn't have to be in a big house all by myself. 

The feeling of reconnection was one I relished in. Maybe I wasn't eating spaghetti in Italy, but I was happy.

2. I stayed away from social media. 

This rule was one I fully believed I would stick to. It didn't dawn on me that I am a Gen Z-er with a serious addiction to social media... like, at all. 

It was easier to watch people I didn't really care about travelling than it was to see my own friends doing it, so I quietly muted them. After a while, I missed them too much to not engage with their content, so I stopped doing that altogether. 


I realised amid one social media boycott it wasn't healthy for me to purposefully avoid my friends, so I thought it would be best if I just minimised my time on socials. I chose to use Instagram and Facebook during work hours (don't judge me, social media is part of my job!). In doing so, I limited how much time I had to stare at semi-painful photos on my screen. 

Instead of spending a good ten minutes alone in my bed zooming in on pictures of the food my friends were eating, and the places they were going to, I was instead spending a few seconds concentrating on the photo before returning to my work tasks. 

Doing this helped me focus without spending way too much time wondering what they were doing without me. 

Read more from Shannen Findlay: "I was told I was a 'bad friend' this year. I refuse to apologise for it."

3. I told friends about my FOMO. 

I don't know if it's my individuality complex or something, but I didn't really think anyone would understand how I'd be feeling. After all, these were my housemates on holiday – not anyone else's. 

But when I told a very close friend how my emotions were beginning to take a toll, I got a much-needed reality check. 

"They're my mates too," I recalled her telling me. "And that's not where you or I are meant to be, or else we would be there – so why are you focussing on it so much?" 


The clarity this gave me was remarkable. 

She then told me we should really be feeling "JOMO" (Joy Of Missing Out) because the idea of walking around for hours in the heat and spending a lot of money didn't appeal to her right now. And honestly? It didn't appeal to me either. 

Later that night, I thought about the conversation we'd shared and I felt thankful. The jealousy had begun to subside and the fear of being left out was beginning to get exhausting.

Who cares if I didn't get to see the Palace of Versailles or eat glorious food right now? It would happen one day. AKA, exactly when it should happen. 

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, hosted by Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens. Post continues after audio. 

4. I accepted that their reality was indeed not mine.

I know quite a few people like me who are obsessed with their friendships. To me, they're the most important relationships I have. At first, it was incredibly difficult to accept that I wasn't experiencing life right beside them. It hurt to think their memories wouldn't have me in them. 

Now, I've come to accept being out of the loop. I didn't get to see Europe with my best friends, but there are so many other memories and "first times" we share together. There are so many meals we've eaten beside each other and so many stories we will laugh at for decades to come. 


Their story is not always going to be the same as mine and realising this helped me to understand that I live a pretty incredible life, filled with people and experiences that fill my cup every single day.

By the time my friend's holidays were coming to an end, I was itching to see them again and eagerly counting down the days until they could tell me all about their European summer. 

My FOMO had undoubtedly vanished.

I made sure the house was sparkling clean. I folded laundry I'd ignored for weeks and even gave the floor under the couch a good vacuum. When one housemate returned home early the next morning, I was woken up with kisses on my face. My boys were home. And they had missed me just as much as I had missed them. 

While my best friend chatted in my ear for hours about everything that had happened while they were away, I couldn't wipe the smile from my face. 

Sure, there was so much I hadn't been a part of, but the look in his eyes while he recalled one of the best trips of his life? 

Well, that look was priceless. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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