I have major FOMO. I want to know about everything that is going on. I want to be the first to hear all my friends’ news. I want to be in the photos that appear on Facebook the next day. I want to have the same success as my friends. I want to travel to all the same places and be at the same conferences and meet ups.
It makes me say yes to meetings and parties that I don’t really want to go to. It makes me say yes to roles and responsibilities I have no passion for. It makes me fill my calendar almost to bursting point.
Why am I so scared of missing out?
For me, it’s rooted in insecurity. If I don’t keep saying yes to these roles, how will I be able to measure my value or skill? If I don’t go to that party, maybe my absence won’t be noticed – I need to keep reminding people I’m worth inviting! If I don’t know the news first before anyone else, is it a sign that I’m not liked, or not trusted, or not – gasp! – indispensable?
I’ve battled with insecurity for a long time, and it’s been an easier or harder fight depending on the season I am in. Life changes (like moving home, taking or resigning a job, becoming a parent) are often a catalyst for a harder season, because they expose the truth that I had slipped back into basing my worth and my identity on these things. When they shift, I must do the work again of embracing an identity that is based on something solid, a foundation that is firm.
I’m a huge lover of personality tests. I’ve done them all. The Strengths Finder, the Myers Briggs, what kind of dog would you be… (I’m only kidding a little). I was introduced to the Enneagram through Leigh Kramer, and love how much depth it goes into. I am a Two (the personality types are numbered). This is what the Enneagram Institute highlights as the ‘Key Motivations’ for a 2:
Twos “want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves.”
Eek. It both makes me profoundly relieved and profoundly uncomfortable to read that. Relieved because suddenly it makes sense why this battle for self-worth has been such a fight for me. Uncomfortable because I know these motivations can easily lead to unhealthy approaches to life – including an overwhelming fear of missing out.
Pregnany and motherhood have been the biggest lesson, this past 18 months, in giving up my FOMO. I’ve no longer been physically able to keep doing the amount of things I had in my calendar before. And so as I’m learning the important skill of saying no, I’ve also started facing up to that fear, and seeing it for the paper tiger it is.
Here are some questions I’ve learnt to ask myself to help me out of a FOMO moment:
Why do I want this? What is my motivation for wanting to go/be involved now?
What am I really missing out on here? Is it something that impacts my own journey in a significant way?
Is my fear realistic? Am I imagining the thing I am missing in a way that’s truthful?
These questions help me unpack my FOMO so that I can see it for what it really is. And sometimes that means realising the reason for my fear is that I am truly passionate about that role/event, and I can then make changes to my schedule or priorities, or set future goals, towards not missing out next time.
But mostly? I realise my motivations are suspect. My fear is actually insecurity. And once I figure that out, it takes away so much of the power of the event. Yes, I missed out. It doesn’t matter. This doesn’t need to affect my contentment or my focus. It helps me start to be truly happy for others’ experiences and successes. And it helps me keep my own feet walking on the path that is just my own.
Fear of Missing Out is a big distraction to my own life’s journey. Instead of staying sure and certain of the direction I’m going, I allow everyone else’s lives, successes, moments and visions divert me from my own. By giving up FOMO, we create room in our hearts and minds – breathing space – to hear and understand where we are being called to go, who we are being called to become.
Beautiful things can happen when you stop trying to follow everyone else’s path and start walking your own.
This post is part of a mini series I am doing through Lent this year, called Giving It Up. You can go back and read about my journey Giving Up Fear, and Giving Up Apathy.
Michael Scott GIF: Source.