|Photo by Moss.|
As soon as I saw the term FOMA (Fear of Missing Alcohol) in the headline for this Refinery 19 article by Ruby Warrington, I knew I needed to check it out.
I have been aware for some time that when I'm in a situation where alcohol is plentiful - especially if it's free - it's really hard for me to pass up on it, even if my original intention was to lay off, and I have had trouble pinpointing the reason.
I have, after all, often gone to parties, abstained from drinking, and had a great time (my entire youth consisted of doing this). I used to really enjoy doing a "No Fun November" where I avoided drinking, and sometimes sugar, for the whole month. I would come home, clear-headed, buzzing from the fun of hanging out with my friends, knowing that I wouldn't be groggy or hung over the next day, full of joy.
(Oh dear, I essentially just wrote that I was "high on life", didn't I? Sorry. But also, it's true.)
These days, as soon as the person next to me orders a drink or sidles up to the bar cart, I unthinkingly do the same. It's a default conformity that I have to really consciously push against if I don't want to do it.
I have never quite been able to pinpoint the feeling I have in these situations. Sure "fitting in" might be a part of it, but what I feel in the moment isn't any sense of peer pressure or desire to conform. Thanks to Ruby Warrington's reframing, I now recognize the feeling: it is FOMO, but for alcohol. It's FOMA.
(When it comes to the free alcohol, it's also FOMD, Fear of Missing Deals, which brings my Mennonite thriftiness into an awkward interplay with the consumption of a traditionally-avoided substance.)
Her main point is to exercise some mindfulness around our FOMA and kneejerk desire to drink. Are we trying to fit in? Relax? Have "fun"? Ease a socially awkward situation? Find some courage? Celebrate? Recapture a gloriously fun past experience? Take the edge off a rough day? Forget life for a while?
What, exactly, do we think we are going to miss out on by missing out on alcohol?
Then, for the truly curious, we get to explore what happens when we slow down that decision-making process from an instant, "I'll have one, too!" to an actual conscious choice.
Warrington's article is an excerpt from her book about going completely sober, so her overall perspective is clearly about abstaining altogether. If that's a good idea for you, go for it. Otherwise, I think it's useful enough to approach our lives knowing why we are making the choices we make, experiencing alternatives, and not being too regimented about things.
If you want to drink as a part of your celebration, why the heck shouldn't you? It can be really dang fun. Just like it can be really dang fun to go to a party and come home completely sober.
Sign up for my email newsletter for a weekly digest and bonus content!