Cancel your plans: you’ve got a lot of nothing to do

Words Shannon-Paris Cross • Artwork Nour Algharabally

‘What are your plans for tonight?’
‘Big Little Lies Season 2!!!’
‘Clearing out my wardrobe’
‘Yoga at 7’

Sound familiar? The flamenco dancing and microphone emojis that once fuelled your Thursday night group chat, now fill the bottom row of your ‘recently used’ and in their place sit face mask selfies, photos of neatly-folded t-shirts and Netflix trailers. The reason? We’ve finally let go of our old frenemy FOMO and welcomed a new kind of joy into our lives: the simple, wonderful, amazing ‘Joy of Missing Out.’

The antidote to ‘Fear of Missing Out’, JOMO is a theory developed by the Danish psychology professor Svend Brinkmann, who in his book of the same name, describes how finding pleasure in disengagement is crucial. His theory on finding happiness in switching off explains the impending dread you may feel when your midweek dinner plan looms (followed by pangs of guilt for wanting to cancel on someone you love), versus the pure joy that ordering in, pulling on your pyjamas and binge-watching TV gives you. Repeat after me: I am not a bad friend: I. am. tired. And it’s not just the psychology world embracing the chill, fashion has taken a turn too. Sleepwear to dinner? Why not. Tracksuit bottoms for a meeting? Sure. If it requires effort, it’s not happening. The look du jour is about finding comfort in style and we’re here for it. 

With social media platforms flooding us with content minute-by-minute, it’s no surprise that after a day of emails, meetings, Skype calls and incessantly checking our Whatsapp, an evening of ‘catching up’ feels like even more work. To put it simply, we’re overwhelmed. Many of us spend so much time with our heads buried in our phones that we rarely have a minute to process one piece of information before we double tap and move on to the next. And the most frustrating part of all is that despite being exhausted by content, we naturally live in a mindset where ‘wanting more’ is just a part of our culture. This explains the mindless scroll you may find yourself doing, despite not actually reading – or caring – about anything you see. 

Our desire to disconnect and take back our time is not just the fault of our phones. ‘Cramming-culture’ has a lot to answer for too: it’s the idea that we should be ‘fitting it all in’. This kind of toxic hustle creeps in multiple times a day: it’s daily gym boomerangs, it’s waking up before sunrise despite working too late after sunset and it’s meal prepping to save time despite hating leftovers. This relentless idea of having to ‘do it all’ has us screaming for a little bit of… nothing. As Ali Wong hilariously says in her Netflix series Hard Knock Wife, ‘we don’t want to lean in, we want to lay down!’ The point is, ‘seizing the day’ looks totally different for everyone and for a lot of people right now, it looks like staying at home. 

So what does embracing JOMO look like? It’s setting boundaries by giving yourself the freedom to say no, without unnecessary justification or emotion attached. Think of it like applying the Marie Kondo ‘magic of tidying-up’ theory to your life. Is this plan sparking joy right now? Do I really want to apply a face of make-up, get a taxi 30 minutes across town and sit in a dark room screaming over music? If the answer is not tonight, don’t do it. Next week may come and this might sound like the most fun you’ve had since untangling your jewellery box and basking in the neatly organised rows of gold. But tonight, it just isn’t happening. Learning to do nothing without guilt can be tricky for some but from time to time, it’s necessary. ‘Making the most’ of your day doesn’t always look like late nights and exercise classes. Sometimes it looks like beauty treatments, fresh sheets and your favourite silky pyjamas.


The names featured in this article do not automatically endorse The Modist, or any products shown. 

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