FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

As we are about to embark on our second year of homeschooling high school, I pause for awhile to think about the year that is behind us. Oh, how different this past year was compared to what I thought it would be. It was both worse and better than I could have hoped for. When doors of opportunity closed, or when we found ourselves somewhere we weren’t meant to be, we moved on and made things happen elsewhere.

Our purpose at the beginning of last year was to hone in on the activities and opportunities that furthered our goals. The flip side of that meant that we began to pull away from what no longer interested or helped us. We put that old Polish proverb to good use: “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.” We became experts at saying, “No, thank you.”

As a result, our social circles shifted. We learned a lot about the effects of social media, both good and bad. We chartered a 4-H Arts Club (the absolute best part of our year). We changed churches. Kat found a congregation where she feels connected. I am struggling to adapt to the 21st century mode of worship — loud, smoky, bouncy. I have been far too long out of the regular Christian fellowship of other homeschool moms.

As the new school year got closer and closer, I wondered how to fold last year’s lessons into our new year in a positive way. Leave it to God to show me how.

In August we caught the tail end of a sermon series by our new pastor. He taught on living with integrity and having a grateful heart. Both of these topics stuck with me as they seem so very relevant to what we experienced personally this past year and how we want to start the new year. I am especially intrigued by his use of the slang term “FOMO” in illustrating his sermon on gratitude.

We begin to get off track in our integrity and become ungrateful when we let FOMO guide our decision-making process. What in the world is FOMO? Fear of Missing Out. How does that lead to an ungrateful heart and a lack of integrity?FOMO Collage 02

When we operate under a fear of missing out, two things happen. First we become “pickers and choosers.” What’s wrong with that, you ask? Aren’t all homeschoolers “pickers and choosers?” To a point, yes. But the truth of the matter is that this mindset can very easily be driven by a heart rooted in entitlement. Where we go off track is the place at which we come to believe deep down inside that we or our spouse or children are entitled to be, do, or have a part of every latest, greatest thing that comes along. We want it. Need it. Can’t live without it. Can’t possibly miss it… whatever “it” is.

This leads to the second thing that happens when we operate under a FOMO mindset. Our integrity suffers. With all this running to and fro, back and forth, picking and choosing, trying desperately not to miss the latest, greatest thing, we can’t possibly keep our commitments. We have no concept of loyalty. We let people down because we change our plans mid-stream to that “something better” that came along, because we can’t say, “No, thank you.” If we’re not very careful, we can become undependable, dishonest, and selfish. Ouch…

It seems that social media is raw fuel for FOMO. New events pop up every day on most of our news feeds. We have invites from this group and that, lots of people and “stuff” jockeying for our attention. But even in a high-traffic world like facebook and social media, it’s really our rotten entitlement hearts that make us waffle back and forth between integrity and our bizarre need to be everywhere at once. We have become FOMO monsters.

Kat says we can’t use the same homeschool slogan as last year. Perhaps she is right. We will continue to apply the Polish monkey test to everything that comes along, taking it one step further. Our goal for this year — maintain a FOMO-free zone by keeping our commitments with integrity.

On the one hand, keeping commitments is super hard with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The temptation to call things off can be strong when pain is a constant companion, your brain doesn’t function properly, and you’re worn to a nub. On the other hand, FOMO is ridiculous to even worry about because who’s got the energy for all that?

So forward we go into this new year, determined to keep our little part of the universe FOMO free and to encourage others to do the same. Our families, churches, workplaces, and communities will be better for it.