Introducing FOMU: The Fear Of Meeting Up

Move over FOMO...

Before Coronavirus, when we would meet up with the gals and each try each other’s cocktails, shake the hands of people we didn’t know and just generally go about our lives not terrified of germs, we were all too familiar with the acronym FOMO. The fear of missing out. We’ve all experienced it, when we’re sitting on the couch GRIPPED with terror about deciding not to go to that festival/party/coffee date, or have given in and plodded along to an event that we didn’t really fancy going to, but go anyway in case we were to miss out on something.

Now, thanks to everything that has happened in the past year, there’s a new fear in town – FOMU, the fear of meeting up. Whether it be meeting your colleagues in the office after working from home for so long, seeing friends that you’ve missed or even meeting someone for a date. There’s now a fear of meeting up with people, regardless if you’ve known them half your life or having only spoken on Bumble for the past two months.

With each day, we’re one day closer to normality. We’re almost there. Regular after work drinks. Birthday parties. Weddings. Even popping into your mam for a cup of tea. The excitement is building, but that doesn’t mean the FOMU isn’t there.

Understandably, we all want to get back to normal. But for over a year, our movements have been restricted. We’ve talked more about social distancing than we have actual socialising. Even when restrictions are eased it may feel a little strange meeting up with people again. So, what steps can we take to keep the FOMU at bay?

Explain any hesitancy

It may sound annoying, but much like everything else, honesty is the best policy. If you’re feeling anxious about meeting up with people, or restrictions easing, explain it to your family and friends. After the year that we’ve all been through, literally, no one can blame you for being apprehensive. You certainly won’t be the only one feeling hesitant about crowds, meeting new people or other aspects of pre-lockdown life.

Remember it’s completely normal

Like I said, you certainly won’t be the only one that’s feeling nervy, even if you’re more excited than anything and those FOMU feelings are slowly ebbing in and out. You might feel like you’re the only one, particularly where everyone and anyone is screaming about how excited they are to spend Sunday evening in a pub, surrounded by friends and family. Which obviously sounds like the most stunning Sunday plans, but it’s completely normal if those little fears are creeping in too.

Embrace the awkwardness

Going in for a handshake as they go for a double cheek kiss? Awkward. Falling over your words making small talk? Tricky. Let’s face it, when it comes to real-life socialising we’re all pretty much out of practice, so there’s sure to be some awkwardness. Particularly if you’re ready to get back to first dates post-lockdown, meeting someone for the first time is sure to be a tad awkward, so it’s bound to be tripled after being indoors for so long, socialising only with the people you live with. All we can literally do is embrace the awkwardness and laugh it off, because we deserve all of the laughs we can get, right?

Bail if you feel like it

Don’t feel comfortable meeting up with someone who you know wasn’t really abiding by the restrictions in the first place? Or don’t fancy going out for dinner in a group? You don’t have to, remind yourself that you’re well in your right to decline if you don’t feel comfortable or you’re not going to feel up to it. Once restrictions do ease, granted there’s going to be plenty to catch up on: from missed birthdays to office parties. The invitations are sure to be flowing in, so if you’re not feeling it, start off slow. Meet up with one or two people, get your bearings and test the waters. Once you’re feeling it, it’ll be a lot easier to gradually get back to life pre-lockdown.

Zoom your dates

Getting back into the dating game? If you’re not fully sick to the teeth of Zoom, it may be worth having a Zoom date (for old time’s sake) before meeting up. If there’s one thing that I was forever thankful for during lockdown after lockdown was being able to connect with people thanks to the gem that is technology.

Plus, you’ll feel as if you know them more after a video call or two, and once you have a chat and get the awkwardness over with, it’ll probably put you more at ease when you do meet up. Added bonus: You don’t have that fear that they might not look exactly like their profile pic. Video calls have those little perks!

Talk to a professional

If your fear of meeting up with people weighs heavier on you than it should, it may be worth talking to a professional about any feelings of anxiety you have. This year has affected people’s mental health in a way that may not be glaringly obvious, or you may have presumed your anxious feelings would go as the restrictions eased. Put the feelers out there to see if anyone you know can recommend a therapist, give them a call or schedule an online meeting. Anything that makes life easier right now will always be worth a try.

Stay safe

I’m no pandemic expert, but while we’re waiting for the whole of our little island to be vaccinated, it’s pretty apparent that there are still precautions to be taken – even when restrictions are being lifted. If you’re feeling nervy about meeting up with others when we can, it’ll also benefit you and your concerns by still following certain precautions when you need to or even feel as if you need to. Wearing your mask on public transport, in crowded streets or where it’s needed, not sitting directly beside people if you’re meeting your friends, using hand sanitiser regularly. They’re small things, but they’re essential right now and they may be for quite some time.

If you’re anything like me, you may be experiencing a mix of both FOMO and FOMU. I have the fear of missing out on anything and everything once restrictions begin to ease, simply because I feel like I have missed out on so much, like us all, that I don’t ever want to feel like I’m missing out again. We’ve all had enough of that already, thank you very much. Yet, there’s still that apprehensive feeling hanging in the air, where FOMO meets FOMU.

Just as it took us all some time to adjust when lockdown restrictions were first put in place, it might take some time to adjust when they’re lifted. Even if it’s what we’ve been looking forward to all year, the hesitancy can hit like a tonne of bricks. So, if you’re on the edge of FOMU, remind yourself that’s it’s completely understandable and just plain normal.

Images via Twenty20
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