After 12 long months, the end of the pandemic is finally starting to seem within reach. Every day, more and more folks are getting vaccinated, and it looks like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But after a year of being cooped up inside, the prospect of, you know, going out and seeing people again, is stirring up a lot of mixed feelings. Namely, FOMO and FOGO, or fear of missing out and fear of going out. Read on for how to spot each feeling, plus which one you can expect to have whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between.
What Is FOMO?
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is exactly what is sounds like: when you feel anxious or stressed that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere that you’re not involved in. FOMO is often worsened by social media, since society’s insatiable need to post every single thing we’re doing means seeing all the fun things the people in your network are up to. In a post-pandemic world, FOMO could look like grabbing after-work drinks with one friend while seeing Instagram Stories of other friends and a place that looks way cooler and more fun.
What Is FOGO?
Fear of going out, or FOGO, is quite the opposite from FOMO. Those who experience FOGO would rather stay home than venture out and be social, and often find public outings to be incredibly stressful and anxiety-provoking. As the vaccine becomes available to more and more people, brunches and date nights and trips to the museum are going to become commonplace again, which could spell disaster for anyone who’s frequently experienced FOGO.
If You’re an Extrovert, You Might Experience FOMO
Self-described introvert Erin describes her anticipatory FOMO like this: “I haven’t seen anyone or done anything fun in a year. I know that I’ll have to choose between different outings soon enough, and that’s already stressing me out.” Erin says the extrovert in her is always on the lookout for greener pastures, meaning even if she's enjoying herself, she's always wondering if there's something better she's missing out on. “It’s not that I won’t love hanging out with the people I do choose to see, I’ll just want to do everything—even though being in two places at once isn’t possible (sadly).”
Here’s how Tess Brigham, a psychotherapist and certified life coach, explains the people who are itching to get back into the wild: “In this case, it’s not just about wanting to be in a crowded theater or bar again; it’s about wanting to feel some reassurance that we know what to expect from other people,” Brigham says. “The way we interact with others when we’re out of the house is so different now, which makes the thought of an armrest hog feel like, ‘Ahhh I know this, I’ve been here before.’” Makes sense, no?
If You’re an Introvert, You Might Experience FOGO
Introverts like Trish say they’ve gotten accustomed to the built-in excuse to stay home that is the pandemic. “Obviously Covid has been terrible in almost every way, but I have to admit that it’s been kind of nice not to have to pretend I’m enjoying myself in crowded public settings or feel badly for turning down friends’ invitations to do things,” she tells us. Some introverts are dreading the overstimulation of life post-pandemic. Trish says that while she’s not in a rush to get back to a crowded bar or concert, she is excited to spend time with small groups of people (or even just one person) in calm, restorative settings. “My dream,” Trish admits, “is to go to a yoga class with my best friend, grab a coffee together afterward and spend the rest of the day doing my own self-care—solo.”
If You’re an Ambivert, You Might Experience Both
You’re not totally introverted but you’re not 100 percent extroverted, either: You’re an ambivert. Since your personality is somewhere in the middle, you can probably expect to feel a little bit of FOMO and FOGO. I, the writer of this piece, am an ambivert who formerly identified as an introvert. (Credit for that goes to antidepressants, but that’s a story for another day.) I am thrilled to get back out into the world, but knowing myself, I’m almost certainly going to get too excited to see everyone and go everywhere that I’m going to overestimate how full I want my social calendar to be. Like many ambiverts I know, I’ll be delighted to make plans and accept invitations, then my social energy will quickly deplete, and I’ll have to spend a day or two speaking to no one—and that’s OK. I, for one, can’t wait.