Inside: Learn how to conquer your fear of being ordinary and to enjoy your life as it is!

Do you want to live an average life? 

Chances are, the answer to that question is no

We don’t want to be ordinary… we want to be exceptional. And often we want it all – the career, the relationship, the status, and the experiences that come along with it.

And it’s only gotten worse with social media. Now that you can share images and videos of your extravagant – or perfectly normal – life on Instagram, why settle for anything less than spectacular?

It’s called FOBO – the fear of being ordinary. And it affects more people than you might realize.

fear of being ordinary

The Quest to be Special: Do You Have Koinophobia?

If you’re struggling with FOBO, you might have koinophobia – which is defined as the fear of living an ordinary life.

Some people have a very real fear of being ordinary – to the point where it could be considered a crippling phobia. 

The idea of living an ordinary life isn’t reassuring or relaxing – it’s absolutely terrifying to those with koinophobia. It can stop you in your tracks and send you into a spiral of anxiety or depression, and create way more stress than you need in your life.

But why? 

Social media may play a role. Thanks to the rise of Facebook, Instagram, and others, it’s easier than ever to show off your latest purchase, vacation, or social outing.

And make your life look WAY more glamorous than it actually is. It’s easy to feel ordinary when comparing your life to those you see on social media.

fear of being ordinary

FOBO: Clues to Why You Might Feel Like You’re Not Living Life to the Fullest

Not sure why you’re feeling the fear of being ordinary in your life? 

Check your social media feeds. They may have something to do with it.

Thanks to the rise of social media over the last decade, we’re all in an unspoken competition to live as fully and as excitingly as possible. Between Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and other social media platforms, you can share as much – or as little – about your life with the rest of the world.

And unfortunately, some people err on the side of ‘as much as possible’ – especially when they’re doing something that’s actually worth talking about. Scroll through your social feeds, and it’s pretty easy to see how you can develop a fear of missing out. 

Now, since social media is a fairly new phenomenon in the grand scheme of things, we’re still trying to figure out how it affects us. That’s why we’ve seen so many new acronyms pop up over the last few years – strings of letters that somehow perfectly capture the ways we’re feeling. 

And unsurprisingly, a lot of them are tied to the idea of missing out on something, like… 

FOBO = Fear of Being Ordinary

FOBO is the fear of being ordinary. If the idea of living a regular, normal, average life sends you into a panic, you may suffer from FOBO. 

YOLO = You Only Live Once

One of the original acronyms to stem from the internet, YOLO is a great way to capture the spirit that drives many in the digital age. You only live once – so why not take a chance, put yourself out there, and try something new? 

People who embrace YOLO are the folks that people who suffer from FOBO quietly envy; they’ve always got something going on, mostly because they’re brave enough to take the risk and make it happen.

ICYMI = In Case You Missed It

In today’s constantly-connected, always-on society, the idea of missing out on something important can send a person into an emotional tailspin. ICYMI – which stands for “in case you missed it” – is often used to show people exactly what they missed out on.

If you see an ICYMI tag on a post, you know you weren’t invited to whatever it was – and it doesn’t always feel great.

FOMO = Fear of Missing Out

Nobody wants to miss out on anything – whether it’s a vacation with friends, a surprise party, or a big life milestone, like a wedding or a new baby.

That’s why FOMO can be so anxiety-inducing. If you weren’t there, it’s easy to feel like you missed out – and with photos plastered all over social media, it can make that feeling of loss even more significant.

JOMO = Joy of Missing Out

While not as widely known or used as some of the other acronyms, JOMO, which is the joy of missing out, seeks to make missing out a positive thing.

It acknowledges that sometimes what is best for us is not trying to be everywhere doing everything. JOMO allows for rest, relaxation, and embraces being a homebody. This is an acronym I can definitely get behind!

fear of being ordinary

Are You Living in Fear of Being Ordinary?

This might be a good time to do a little self-reflection. Think about it. Are you truly afraid of being ordinary? Does the idea of living a normal, average life strike fear into your heart and send you into a panic?

If it does, you might want to figure out why. And I’d start by exploring…

What Does Living an Ordinary Life Look Like?

It’s smart to start by understanding what you actually think an “ordinary” life looks like.

Ordinary is defined as “with no special or distinctive features; normal.” 

So what does a life look like without any special or distinctive features? What does “normal” look like?

It can look like a lot of things to a lot of people. How you grew up will shape your definition of what ordinary is. Normal to you is typically based on whatever you experienced in your life.

For most people, an ordinary life is often tied to an uneventful life. It’s a life in which you can comfortably meet your needs, address the rare emergency, and exist without a ton of stress or pressure.

It’s a life without constant excitement, stress, and worry. It’s a life without unpleasant surprises or unwanted emergencies. 

For some? That sounds ideal.

For those who suffer from FOBO? That’s anxiety inducing for the fear of what they think they might be missing out on.

What Does Being Ordinary Mean to You?

Because of the differences in our definitions of ordinary, viewed through the lens of our own experiences, it makes much more sense to address the question more specifically.

What does being ordinary mean to you

And why is it such a bad thing? 

That isn’t one we can answer for you. Instead, it’s going to take some self-reflection to figure out what your definition of ordinary looks like – and, if that isn’t what you want, to figure out what feels so wrong about that.

But you may want to start by understanding…

What Causes the Fear of Being Ordinary?

Why do we feel a fear of being ordinary? After all, there’s nothing wrong with living an average life – but the idea sends many of us into an anxious tailspin.

Let’s examine a few of the reasons people get FOBO, like…

Social Media

It’s easy to see how social media has contributed to this problem. Thanks to smartphones and a slew of websites designed to help you share every element of your life with the world, it’s easier than ever to post a photo or a video and highlight whatever you happen to be doing – however cool or uncool.

However, most people don’t post the less exciting (but necessary things) like – making dinner, cleaning the house, paying the bills. Instead, social content is all about showing up and showing off – on vacation, at a new restaurant, or wherever you might be, whatever you’re doing.

fear of being ordinary

When it comes to understanding why we feel FOBO, social media is the biggest culprit. 

But it’s not the only one. There’s also…

Not Living Up to Expectations

FOBO can also stem from a fear that you aren’t living up to expectations – either ones set by yourself, or set by others. 

In many cases, we are often our harshest critics and hold ourselves to higher standards than anyone else. 

But it’s not just us – it’s also our family, our friends, and others in our lives. Their opinions matter too, and we certainly don’t want to appear “ordinary” in their eyes.

This is especially true for people with parents who spent years telling them they’ll be exceptional and change the world. 

Training Youth to Attain Perfection

Those expectations and ideals are established early in life – before we even realize what’s going on. If your parents held you to impossible standards as a child, it’s easy to see how FOBO can stem directly from that. 

By teaching kids that “average” isn’t OK – that they must strive for perfection and exceptional results in everything they do – we’re cultivating years of bad habits and negativity that can be avoided.

Overcome FOBO and Enjoy Your Average Life

If you want to be happy and make the most of every experience, you need to overcome the fear of being ordinary and start enjoying your perfectly average life.

But that’s easier said than done when you suffer from a fear of being ordinary.

The first step to changing that?

Change your mindset.

It’s time to embrace the ordinary and accept the fact that there isn’t anything wrong with average.

One way to start? Get a piece of paper and write down all of the things that matter to you in your life.

There’s a good chance that list includes things like your health, your family, your friends. It may include having new experiences, learning new things, and exploring new places. 

Know what it probably doesn’t include?

Impressing your friends and acquaintances and showing everyone how cool your life is.

When you drill down and focus on the things that are truly meaningful, you’ll find that your own experiences – and the meaning you give them – are far more important than the judgement of others.

And by focusing on that, you can escape the FOBO mindset and enjoy your average life.

fear of being ordinary

Stop comparing.

Stop the fear of being ordinary by committing to end the comparison game. If social media has become a problem for you, go through and unfollow the people and pages that give you FOMO and FOBO.

Comparison steals your joy. If you want to be more content with your ‘average’ life, don’t compare yourself with others.

Consider the people who have been most influential in your life. Were they people who did big things or were they ordinary people who cared?

Comparison has a way of diminishing the value of the small and simple things that may not be glamorous or impressive, but that doesn’t mean they are less important or meaningful.

Decide to stop comparing and to focus on what you already have and what truly matters most to you.

Focus on gratitude.

And finally, focus on gratitude. When you keep your mind on what you already have that you’re grateful for, you won’t be fixated on what you may be missing out on.

When you make a habit of gratitude in your life, your perspective will shift. Even if your circumstances remain the same, practicing gratitude will help you to see your life differently.

Stop the fear of being ordinary by reflecting on what you’re thankful for.

Gratitude helps you to see the beauty in the little ‘ordinary’ things. The small gestures of a smile, kind word, or a door held open may seem part of an ‘average’ life to you, but to someone who needed to be shown kindness that day, it could mean the world.

Notice goodness in your life. As you live out your purpose, your life will feel less ‘average’ and more meaningful.

Don’t Let the Fear of Being Ordinary Stop You From Living Your Best Life!

Your best life might look a little ordinary.

And that’s ok.

As long as you’re focused on the things that matter, you don’t need to be worried about anything you might be missing out on.

By focusing instead on all of the things you already have and appreciating the small and meaningful things in life, you’ll find contentment in your ‘average’ life.

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3 Comments

  1. I loved this article Julianna. It’s funny but all the things that really matter are “ordinary” miracles like our family, friends, a roof over our head, end enough to eat. When we focus on those things we are happier. It’s all this competition that kills us. I just read a book about happiness and rest and apparently the Dutch have a phrase that goes: “just act normal. That’s crazy enough.” I love that phrase because no life is ordinary. Life is beautiful and unique to each of us even if we aren’t doing anything extraordinary. Why look for extra drama??

  2. I have lived an ordinary life for a long time. I do not try to keep up and I feel sorry for the people who think they have to. On being retired, I was struggling with what is my purpose in life and then wham bang, my daughter got cancer and now I know what my purpose is!

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