Overcoming FOMO

FOMO
noun   informal
Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.

I read something earlier this year that really struck me. It was from a book called ‘The Intentional Christian Community Handbook’ by David Janzen, and the part I was reading was about the challenges my generation face in working out community.

“As we tumble into delayed adulthood, we wind up defining our life so far based on experiences instead of our accomplishments.”
The Intentional Christian Community Handbook, p56

I often see photos online of exciting, exotic places, with quotes like “Let’s go adventuring”. I think a lot of people have a thirst for exploration, adventure, trying new things, and escaping the 9-5 routine. Whether that’s travelling to a completely different country, or trying out lots of new skills, or getting involved in political causes, there are many ways we try and squeeze every bit out of life. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s interesting to see the effects of this way of thinking.

We can end up collecting life experience in the same way previous generations might have collected money, possessions or promotions. We can define ourselves, shape our identity around it. So what happens if your life is totally normal and unexciting? You begin to feel like there’s something wrong with you, or something missing.

A phrase that’s been floating around recently is FOMO – “Fear Of Missing Out” – and it’s seeped into every area of our lives. Due to our connected online lives, we can see other people having wonderful lives, trying and doing all these interesting things, and it creates a sense in us that we should be doing it too. The grass is always greener on the other side, and we think we’d be happier if we only moved there, tried that out, or joined in with this.

This can have an impact on church and community life, because although living for God is obviously the biggest adventure there is, it looks very different for each person. For some people, it might look like bringing Jesus to a place where it’s dangerous to be a Christian, but for most of us, it looks like choosing to forgive someone who’s hurt you, or joining a local club so that you can get to know people in your area.

This isn’t a rant against being inspired to try new things, but I’m often reminded of where my identity truly lies: being loved by God. When I feel like I should be doing more with my life, I remember that I’ve promised to let go of control and trust God to lead me where He wants. He’s the only one who really knows what we need, and for some of us, that might simply be to stay put and show God’s kingdom in the normal and the everyday.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35

 

If you’ve got to the end of this article and you’re thinking “yes, but…” or “no, because…” write your “yes but” or “no because” in the comments below.

I live in a Christian community house with 15 other people and a cat called Smudge. I may be a bit too obsessed with spotting misplaced apostrophes and I have an appreciation for terrible jokes. I love bacon, seeing young people find freedom, deep discussions and discovering new cupcake cafés.