Find the courage in missing out

By Kristen DeHaven | Multimedia Journalist

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but fall break is officially behind us. We are over half way through the fall semester, and whether that sparks joy or distress in your soul, it is not going to change any time soon.

This past weekend was only my first fall break at Baylor, but it did not take long for me to figure out the basis of how it goes: one either takes the three-day weekend and goes on the vacation of a lifetime, or one stays at Baylor and feels like the entire student body has left them behind in some sort of mass exodus.

This year I was in the latter group and it caused me to develop some questions about why the fear of missing out (FOMO) is such a struggle for our current generation.

Some argue that the fear of missing out is actually a healthy thing that we should all embrace. They claim that these feelings of envy or insecurity can push you to become the person that you see when scrolling down your Facebook feed, and in turn live a happier and more productive life.

I have to disagree with that, and here’s why.

The fear of missing out is a fear that not being involved in a particular experience will lead to unintended consequences, such as a decline in social status or questioning of self-worth. FOMO encourages the idea that you need to be present in all places at all times in order to make your life worthwhile. Some have taken this idea to the extreme, chasing involvement over all else.

I would argue that this is probably not the best way to chase contentment.

On a most basic level, trying to combat FOMO by doing everything is simply setting yourself up for a massive failure. The day, week and year only hold so much time and therefore it is our responsibility to spend that time in the most meaningful ways possible.

So, that forces us to ask the question: how do we make decisions that we know will lead to our time being used in meaningful and intentional ways?

I think a good place to start would be by assessing where we are dedicating our time, our money, and our ultimately our finite amount of energy.

As we said earlier, FOMO is the fear of missing out on an experience that ultimately you are not a part of. These are the experiences of friends, family members and those on social media, not yourself. Taking that one step further, these are the things that friends, family members, and those on social media have deemed worthy of their time, money, and energy. You are in no way obligated to value your resources in those same ways.

A while back I watched a presentation discussing why our generation is potentially the most depressed generation so far. The speaker presented the idea that we, the current generation, are forgetting that we are capable of experiencing happiness. We say ‘yes’ to so many things simply because of the fear of missing out, even though those things are usually not even in line with what we value. We attend an event, take a trip or watch a movie, and when all is said and done, question why we did not have an absolutely fantastic time — even though we would have never chosen to spend our time, money and energy in that way in the first place. We trick ourselves into believing that we cannot be truly happy by always chasing the things that make other people happy.

If we were to look at this from a Christian perspective, and worry about something even bigger than our earthly happiness, the same concepts apply yet there is so much more at stake. God has gifted each of us with unique passions, life experiences, interests, and talents in order to shape us into people that will make a difference in our broken world.

When we deny these gifts and chase what we perceive as better, we are pursuing the purposes of others, and leaving our own purposes behind and unfulfilled. Imagine how difficult it must be to find contentment, happiness and joy in a world where you are without your God-given purpose.

His plan is better, so today, tomorrow and the next day I will strive to find joy in the journey that the Lord has set before me.