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After FOMO and JOMO comes FOSO: we are afraid of starting over

Given the times, who can blame us?

After FOMO and JOMO comes FOSO: we are afraid of starting over Given the times, who can blame us?

We're afraid of missing out, but also of doing too much, of getting tired, of being cringey, and of making fools of ourselves. We're afraid of being excluded. We want to be on top of things, be happy, be well-rested, keep up with events, have lots of friends, and also stay at home and see no one. We're scared of changing, but also of staying the same, all at once. We're complex, we're human beings, and as Walt Whitman would say in the most overused phrase of the last 10 years, we contain multitudes (and thank goodness for that).

A New Acronym Joins the Others

Existing seems to be getting more complex. The opposing forces to reconcile in our daily lives are too many, too fast, and too far apart. The socio-economic situation doesn't help. Internet slang tries to keep up, and every day there's a new acronym to express and summarize huge, collective feelings that overflow and overwhelm us, feelings we live without processing. Just like the suburbs of Milan, which are now called NoLo, NaPa, and NoCe, the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) acronyms are joined by a third thing, with possibly even deeper implications. We're talking about FOSO.

What is FOSO?

It stands for Fear of Starting Over, meaning the fear of starting over, from scratch. The expression comes from the world of dating and romantic relationships and codifies a behavior as old as time: starting over is hard, being alone after years is hard too, so we might as well stay where we are, in the relationship we've invested so much in, even if we're not exactly happy anymore. There are many pressures at play in this attitude, which manifests in everyone, with little difference. Social pressures push us to pair up: the world, in pairs, seems more manageable. Rent, too. The heteronormative family, made up of a man, a woman, and children, where you stay together regardless of feelings, out of habit, for appearances, and for the supposed joy of the kids, is still, despite everything, the prevailing model of social organization, and the stigma for women who remain single and childless after 30 still lingers.

@shayyourlovediva Fear of starting over in love. #lovecoach #newbeginnings #datingadvice #singlewomen #bossdiva #bossbabe #attractlove #soulties Worship Instrumental - Adrian Jonathan

From Relationships and Beyond

Unfortunately, an attitude known in relationships is now spreading to other areas of life: we're afraid to leave the job we hate and that makes us unhappy, to change homes, cities, regions, or countries, to leave the old path for the new, knowing what we're leaving but not what we'll find. Folk wisdom has known this for a long time, but it's impossible not to notice how, now, this fear is even deeper and more paralyzing. It's not hard to understand why. The times are uncertain and certainly unique. Human history has had difficult moments before, but never with such a connection and at the same time with such a push towards individualism and solitude. Every day of our lives, we see everything we're missing in the world, both good and bad, and we're bombarded with a thousand stimuli, not all positive. The negative thoughts and events of other people's lives, even strangers, are presented to us without warning, penetrating our subconscious and influencing our view of the world. We weren't ready for this unbearable number of visual and emotional impulses. Yet here we are, enduring them. Doubly trapped: by our fears and by the fears of other people. The risk, as it's clear, is to remain still, petrified, living a life we don't like.

@elizabday If you’re feeling nervous about starting over, this is for you.

Life as a Risk, Despite Everything

Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all solution to FOMO, FOSO, and everything in between. We can't do anything about wars, economic crises, or the anxiety that grips us. These are collective problems, and as such, they should be tackled collectively from above. In our own small way, however, with the help of a therapist, we can start to process the scorching lava flow of worries that the world dumps on us every day, understand our deepest fears, learn to protect ourselves while still staying connected to our needs and those of the people close to us. Living in our own time, on our own terms, seeking happiness or something better than the status quo, has always been a sport for the brave. Now, it's even more so.