The Truth About FOMO
Edit: Originally posted on 8/22/2016 on jordynschirripa.weebly.com
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. The transition from summer to school is more complicated than it seems. For me this season comes with a lot of change- new roommates, an interesting schedule, a different area of serving, and working a job during the school year (or at least trying to). I tried my best to mentally prepare myself to come back to Clemson and dive into all things school related, however, some things you just can’t prepare for as much as you might try.
During these first few weeks of school, I’ve met a lot of freshman and had the chance to talk with a few I’ve known for a while and there seems to be a common theme to all of our conversations. Every girl I’ve talked to has said the same thing: “so far college is okay, it’s just really lonely sometimes.” As we’ve talked through their first weeks and some of the things they are struggling with, this issue is at the core of their entire experience so far.
Yes, this is only their first week of college, and yes, freshmen are still in the process of making friends, but I don’t think that this is just a freshmen problem. I would bet my money that most everyone has felt the loneliness that comes with the college experience at some point or another. Heck, I’ve experienced it today. And honestly, as much as we’d hate to admit it, I think this problem has less to do with loneliness and more to do with FOMO, that is fear of missing out.
You know FOMO, I know FOMO, we all know FOMO. Like when you have a prior commitment and all your friends decide to hang out and you can’t help wonder what they are up to. Or when you aren’t invited to a party or a wedding and you stalk social media to see what’s going on. Maybe it hits you on a deeper level because you aren’t dating someone and all your friends are or you still don’t know what you are doing for the summer and you’re afraid to be stuck at home while everyone else is doing something awesome.
We all like to make jokes about FOMO whenever we can’t make it to something or we like to pick on people that visibly struggle with it, however I think that this issue is something that is at the core of not only the loneliness we feel from time to time, but also the way that we view ourselves in relation to others and in relation to God.
You see, FOMO steals our peace and causes us to doubt ourselves and God’s goodness. When we are constantly living in a state of fear that we aren’t being invited to something or that we are missing out on something better than our current situation, we are creating unnecessary anxiety in our hearts and minds. When we justify our exclusion from situations with lies of “it’s because I’m not ______ enough”, we are throwing away the identity God has given us for one that the world has created. When we continue to compare our circumstances to the ones of those around us and wonder why we don’t have something that someone else has, we are not trusting that God is a good and loving Father that has plans for us greater than we can imagine.
FOMO doesn’t only steal our peace and our joy, but it magnifies our insecurities so much that we tend to lose sight of who we are as a child of God because we are finding our worth in the circumstances of this life.
Trust me, I know it is hard to live with FOMO. It often manifests itself in my life through my insecurities, causing me to doubt my friendships and my future. When I let the fear and doubt creep into my mind, it causes me to forget who I am in the Father and it makes me a victim to lies and insecurities from the enemy. When this happens though, it is crucial that I preach truth to myself. For example, the kind of truth found in 2 Timothy 1:7:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
When we feel the crushing weight of loneliness that is magnified through our FOMO, instead of letting our circumstances determine our worth or our identity, we need to turn and run to the Father to be embraced as His children. We must ask for the eternal peace and steadfast minds that He promises to those who trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3-4). In these situations, we must remember that we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12) and that even in the loneliest times we have the confidence and boldness of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. And we must realize that we can never "miss out" on what God has for us if we believe in His sovereignty.
So, my friends, as we enter back into this confusing time of college where we are sure to experience some loneliness and FOMO, use those circumstances to draw closer to the Lord, and ask Him to give you the peace and confidence that the Holy Spirit has to offer. Ask Him to give you the courage to be inviting to others and pursue people you don’t know as well when you are feeling lonely. Ask Him to guard your mind from the lies and insecurities that creep up when you aren’t invited to something. Ask Him to show you His love and grant you peace so that you might be a blessing to others who are struggling with the same emotions as you. Ask in humility and ask in faith and be amazed at the work that the Father can and will do in your life.