I am a deeply relational person. This means that not only do I have a desire to create and foster meaningful relationships with the people around me, I also have the desire to see other’s relationships grow and flourish. This being said, public enemy number one to people like me (and for most people these days I feel) is The Fear of Missing Out, also known as FOMO. What this means is that we (read myself included) live in a near constant state of worrying that if we’re not hanging out with people all of the time that we’re bound to be missing out on some great new experience or awesome inside joke.
This, of course, is a lie, but it’s one that is so easy to believe. In part, because society has trained us to document every moment of our lives, so when we look at people’s highlight reels we feel like we’ve missed out on a once in a lifetime opportunity to have fun. The other part of the equation is that we are, all of us, craving human relationships whether that comes in the form of dating relationships, best friends, soul sisters, or your “ride or die” crew, we long for that deeply human connection. And these pressures and longings lead us down a dangerous path of forcing relationships and pushing ourselves towards burn out because we “don’t want to miss out on a second of what other people are doing”.
I have been so caught up and ensnared in the lies of the Fear of Missing Out that there are times when I have had a visceral gut twisting reaction when I scroll through my social media feeds and see my friends having fun without me (even if I’m an ocean away, or physically can’t hang out because of a thousand completely valid reasons). It’s even gone so far as feeling like they intentionally left me out, which is of course 100% a lie, but one that is so easy and convenient to believe. After all, it’s so much nicer when we can justify our senseless emotions with the arbitrary lies within our reach than having to face the fact that maybe, just maybe everything and every moment doesn’t have to revolve around us and our happiness.
So how do we combat this Fear of Missing Out then? How do we change the tune of our hearts and our minds so that we no longer feel personally victimized by the very people that love us so deeply and who genuinely want us to be happy? The answer has been staring me in the face for a long time, and the question that it asks is, “Where do you find your worth?”
Where do I find my worth?
Is it in the relationships that I have? In the achievements and success that I gain? Is it in the likes and shares and comments on my social media? Is it found in the love and affection of man? Or is it found in the love and affection of the one who created me? How many times have I tried fruitlessly to find and build my worth here on earth, when all I had to do what turn my eyes heavenward and seek the one who called me worthy before I was even born? The answer is far too many times. The place where we strive to find our worth is directly linked to how much unnecessary fear and worry and anxiety we’ll feel in our life.
When I seek to carve out my value and meaning amongst men I will 100% without a doubt have the feeling of missing out, of not being good enough, of never measuring up, come crashing and burning into my life. But the moment that I turn my eyes and heart towards God, and wholly and fully seek him and him alone those worries and doubts go away. I’m not saying that just because I’m seeking after God it means that I don’t experience heart-aching loneliness or fall into the gut-wrenching comparison trap; because as much as I hate to admit it, that happens fairly regularly (I’m not perfect after all). What it does mean is that instead of spiralling down into the abyss of exclusion and rejection, I can recognise the lies and turn my eyes back to where my true worth is found. Back to God.
I know that there will still be times when I’m alone in the house and with my thoughts that the Fear of Missing Out will creep up and weigh me down. And I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I like to dwell in that feeling for a little bit; that sometimes I have more than one pity party a day because of the perceived loneliness that I feel. And there will be days where I will still seek to define my worth by worldly standards instead of heavenly ones. But it’s through the mistakes and the slip up’s that we learn, and with those lessons tucked away, we learn how to better combat the lies and schemes of the world.
Let’s boldly step into today, forgetting the Fear of Missing Out and ignoring the lies that the world throws at us. Let’s take stock of our emotions and lay them down at the feet of Jesus, and let’s step into a life free of lonesomeness and cherish the people in our lives that love us and care for us unconditionally.