When I moved away, was it really too much to ask for that my friends would lock down their social schedules, renounce every trace of hedonism, and stoically accept a life of mournful contemplation in my absence? Apparently so.
While my friends all return to university in the UK, I am living in Belgium, not with them. And sometimes, that sucks. Gossip wends its way to me far too leisurely, and the photos of them having a great old time without me (without me!) plastered all over my newsfeed have actually led me, on occasion, to utter words I never thought would pass my lips: “I hate social media.” But that is crazy talk – crazy! – and I don’t mean it. Promise.
Most of the time, I’m just happy to see what they’re getting up to. (And often, more specifically, who they’re getting up to…) But sometimes – just sometimes – the FOMO pangs are undeniable, and I have devised a set of fail-safe cures for when they are.
Sometimes, like so many ailments in life, all it takes is a spot of Netflix. Because don’t forget: you like your friends on TV a lot. Why else would you have cancelled so many social engagements over the years, only to climb under your duvet and marathon Parks and Rec? You may deny it, but your Netflix watched list tells a different story.
But maybe your case is worse than that – beyond the healing reach of even Netflix MD. In that case, I suggest you get crafty. There is nothing your real friends can do for you that a bunch of empty toilet rolls dressed up as people can’t do better. Fish a couple out of the bin, grab some jazzy pipe cleaners, a few googly eyes, a generous sprinkling of glitter, and that’s it – you’re done: ready-made friends, all with more charisma than that guy you sat next to in class that one time. Plus, they’re recyclable. Take that, human friends. Um, right. I guess it’s not exactly the same.
There is, of course, another, secret, option: when you feel sad and left out because people you love are having fun without you in a different place, throw yourself into where you are. Fully immerse yourself in your current place, and have so much fun that they all get FOMO, instead.
But, if you don’t quite manage that – if having a fantastically Instagram-worthy time proves too elusive – then that is fine, too. It’s OK not to be having an amazing time all the time. If you are, then good for you. Amazing for you, in fact. But there are very few people for whom that is actually true. Even those whose Facebook profiles you’re trawling through nostalgically and neurotically have off days sometimes.
Because the big secret that no one ever wants to tell you is that nobody is ever having as much fun as they seem.
But I don’t know, Netflix is good, too.
Millie is a language student at the University of Cambridge, UK, but she’s spending this year as a journalist, living, working and eating frites in Brussels, Belgium. She enjoys watching Netflix, eating guacamole and attempting to change the world via the written word (often at the same time). Follow her here:milliebrierley.co.uk and here: @milliebrierley
[Image via Channel 4]