The fear of missing out is a real thing. If you are outgoing, love being busy, or being around people all the time like me, our extroverted tendencies lend themselves to feel like you need to be where the fun is at. Especially as the enneagram has recently uncovered for many people depending on your personality number, we feel the need -in varying degrees- to be included, desired, and “in” the group (sorry if you hate the enneagram, it just begged to be mentioned here). All the exciting things out in the world distract us into thinking that we’re fulfilled and happy because we feel known and seen. There is definitely truth and beauty to this. But if we really look down deep, it also might be fear that motivates us to get out and to go, do, and be out in the world too. That’s what FOMO is, fear of missing out. Not love. Not joy. Not excitement. But fear. And that kind of sucks. None of us want to be grasping for some sense of fulfillment we can never attain. That’s why I hope that in this time, you take a moment to look inside and ask yourself why you do what you do. It’s hard. Let’s do it together.
Either I’m an optimist or I just have experience with being stuck at home fighting off illness, but it’s actually a nice change to have basically nothing in the outside world going on (thanks Shelter-in-Place). There’s no more FOMO element right now because there’s nothing that anyone is missing out on. For me personally, it feels freeing. We’re all on the same playing field. We have all gotten back to the roots of what it really means to be human. Eat, sleep, do work, clean the house, enjoy hobbies, listen to the birds, go on walks, find joy in what you can, live simply, and realize that not everything is always going to go our way.
Of course I’m not going to disregard the pain, the hardship, and the frustration of this season. In fact, I’ve written a lot about pain and suffering in this time. I’ve had to strip myself of any feeling of entitlement to “the easy life” and embrace repentance. I’ve felt like this season, among others in my life, feel in a lot of ways like war and being stuck in the trenches. Like any season of growth, preparation, or waiting, the growing pains are just that: painful. We wonder when it’s going to end. We struggle to find a purpose in the monotony. I feel it too. From someone who has suffered years of debilitating chronic illness, take heart, dear one. This too shall pass. Remember: everything has a season.
Off the soapbox, and back to FOMO.
At the end of all this, what if it’s the FOMO that’s actually the thing that needs to be put to rest and “left at home”? From my own introspective journey these past couple months, I’ve decided I don’t want to go back to living such a busy life that is dependent on my location or certain society-driven standards of what is “fun” and “worthwhile.” Even while shops have been opening up again slowly and friends have been starting to meet up again, I don’t want to lose the important lessons that I’ve gained in this time. Those valuable lessons for me are:
The valuable lessons I’ve learned in this time are
To be a little bored and try things I might fail at.
To have to deliberately choose how to spend my time (because I’m either bored, or overworking myself with all the new hobbies/work I’ve taken on).
To say no to things that make me feel uncomfortable.
To appreciate simple nights at home with my husband laughing and making up random handshakes because, yes, we’re that bored and weird. (Or awesome, it’s hard to tell.)
To educate myself on difficult topics and see new perspectives of life experiences other than my own.
To take time to sing a little throughout the day (and sometimes, badly).
I don’t know about you, but I want to live the kind of life that I’m learning to live right now. The type that is messy and sometimes quite hard, but that is also grounded, honest, raw, and life-producing. I know it won’t last forever, for which I am also grateful. But it’s also a time where, because my fear of missing out is on the back burner, I realize that I can make this day into whatever I want it to look like. Today is my oyster, and I get to go find the pearl. I can actually pause and think about the quality of day I want to have.
Just remember: if fear is your motivation to do things in life, you will never ultimately achieve any long-term level of personal well-being or true, pure joy. Instead, teach yourself to live out of a place of love.
Here are just a few photos of what I’ve been doing during shelter-in-place, usually involving flowers, tea, and other shenanigans that involve aesthetics and pretty things.
Also, if you are interested in any books that I’ve found helpful in past years to 1) process difficult times, 2) explore secrets to enjoy rest and “home,” 3) learn from amazing human beings, or 4) learn to love your season, check out what speaks to you:
Father Arseny: Priest, Prisoner Spiritual Father, translation by Vera Boutenoff
Here and Now and Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen
Acquiring the Mind of Christ by Archimandrite Sergius
Love Lives Here by Maria Goff
Love Does by Bob Goff
A Path through Suffering and Discipline: A Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot