November 10, 2021
A South Korean TV Series recently took the internet by storm. “Squid Game” became the number one show streamed on Netflix in just around 30 days after its release, reaching over 111 million users or approximately around 142 million families. Because of its interesting concept, musical scoring, and storytelling, no wonder it became a social media favorite.
But I have a confession to make: I haven’t watched a single episode.
I missed out.
But I know that there are other things I’ve missed out on. And ironically, I think missing out isn’t something that only I experience.
On a random night, we would be scrolling through social media. We then see some of our friends that have already met face-to-face after getting their vaccine, batchmates who are changing their profile pictures after being accepted to their dream university, or our close friend who’s already making money through the small business he started during the pandemic.
While you genuinely rejoice with them for their achievements, you realize that you’re not only just being updated with what’s happening with everyone else, but also with the things that you’ve missed and missing out on.
“I wish I were there.”
Because of the things we miss out on, sometimes we feel an emotion that’s a weird combination of exclusion, self-loathing, or envy. This is commonly called the fear of missing out or FOMO.
According to research, FOMO is defined as “the feeling of anxiety or apprehension over the possibility of not being included in an exciting event happening elsewhere that others are experiencing.” This term has been around even before the pandemic but in our case, especially today, the extensive usage of social media can amplify the emotions associated with it.
Although studies have yet to find out what could be the real cause, one thing is common to those who experience FOMO: the feeling of social exclusion.
It’s uncomfortable witnessing the happenings in people’s lives while we feel stuck. It can make us question where we truly belong in our relationships, what will our future look like if our dreams have been delayed, or if our life has any sense at all.
The good news is the Bible doesn’t run out of ways to help us overcome this feeling of anxiety. But what drives FOMO in the first place?
The ways FOMO manifests itself varies per person because we grew up in different cultures and have unique personalities. If we want to overcome FOMO, the first thing we might need to ask ourselves is what motivates that feeling.
“What is the motivation behind my fear of missing out?”
As we identify where it’s coming from, let us also have the courage to acknowledge it so we can deal with it properly.
In our quest to identify the motivation behind this feeling, we can take a pause to pray about it or ask a trusted friend to process our thoughts with us. So what principles can we use to navigate and overcome FOMO?
Embrace your season.
The reality is that we won’t get to experience everything in our lifetime. We will always miss out on some things, but this doesn’t mean that we’re losing “half of our lives” in the process. If we think about it, actually there are things that we do experience that other people miss out on also.
This is one of the beauties of life—that we get to experience things that are meant to be shared with others, or meant to be kept to ourselves.
We are where God wants us to be. As we trust that God has a good, pleasing, and perfect plan for us, we will get to appreciate the season we are in and willingly go through our own journey.
Remember your value.
FOMO has the tendency to make us question our value and even hate ourselves for being left behind. But the work that we do or the experiences we go through doesn’t determine our worth.
On one occasion, before Jesus even lifted a finger to begin His ministry, this is what happened:
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
God was already pleased with Jesus before He even did His ministry!
We are not Jesus but in Him, we become God’s children. God fully knows where we are, how we feel, and what we’ve done, and yet He fully loves us unconditionally. We don’t have to prove ourselves in any way for Him to value us.
Be secured in your community.
Setting a hangout where all your friends will be available is a huge challenge in this pandemic. Online class schedules, household chores, and of course, safety will have to be considered. As a result, we will definitely miss out on some events with our best buddies.
If there’s a person in the Bible that can relate to this experience, that would be the apostle Paul. He wrote about four epistles, which are recorded in the Bible, where he was in prison. During that time, letters were the only means of communication and those messages didn’t arrive real time.
So, it’s safe to say that he missed out on a lot of things—a lot.
Despite all that, he was comfortable with it, knowing that the church was actively supporting and praying for him during those times. He understood that his friendships are built on something deeper, so much so that no matter how many miles they are apart from each other, he can always count on them.
There are more ways than one in strengthening our relationships within our community, especially today. We may miss out on some “exciting” events, but if we build deep, we won’t feel truly left behind.
Train your thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term form of behavioral therapy that psychologists use to train a person’s thought process, helping them respond to specific situations. Once we’ve identified the motivation behind our fear of missing out, CBT can help us respond in a different manner whenever there’s a possibility for our FOMO to be triggered.
The Bible tells us to always be sober-minded and watchful at all times. It also tells us to be prudent and walk wisely. It may take some time to be able to fully overcome FOMO, but deciding to become disciplined in training our minds to redirect our thoughts and shift our focus can take us a step closer to that direction.
Everything that we will experience in our lifetime will only come once, and we might as well enjoy every season of it. I hope that no matter how many things we may miss due to the pandemic, we can always find reasons to rejoice at all times.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.