Have you heard of the fear of missing out? I know it is not a new thing, but it is something that I have been thinking about lately – especially with all of my desire to slow life down a bit. I need to overcome this fear.
If you haven’t heard of this, it is exactly as it sounds.
From Wikipedia – “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.”
If you look into this idea it is most often associated with social media and Millennials, of which I am one, albeit on the much older side of Millennials!
I do not look at it in only the same way the mainstream looks at it. I am less concerned about missing out for myself, and much more concerned about my children “missing out.”
Before I had kids, social media was present, but it wasn’t as present as it is now. Sure, I had a Facebook account, in fact I got one soon after Facebook first came out because I still had my college e-mail address – yes, I had already graduated college when Facebook first arrived on the scene.
In fact, I rebelled against most social media for a very long time.
I had a Facebook account with a whole lot of friends – mainly from high school and college whom I never actually talked to. I found myself entrenched in finding out what everyone was up to – so I deleted my account. I came back after a while and started a new account…just to again delete it. Now I use Facebook in a much different way, it is there for me to use to connect to my readers, but also it is how almost every community activity/church activity/friend communication is performed.
So here is social media, and there I am, trying to stay afloat.
I’m not exactly sure when the change to feeling like my kids may be missing out began. I think that perhaps it is a struggle specifically because we homeschool, and I don’t know many other homeschoolers in our area. I don’t want my kids to feel left behind even though I know they are totally well-adjusted little kids that do all the normal little kid things, just not in a school setting.
What happens when you think that you (or your kids) are missing out? You overcompensate.
And that is where we are today. Overcompensating.
It seems that because of what everyone else is accomplishing on a daily basis, I feel the need to keep up. I want to make sure that my kids are participating in activities; I want to make sure they are keeping up with their public school counterparts. I need to make sure that I am following their interests, while still guiding them to a responsible adulthood.
However, what I see instead, is that we end up rushing. We are rushing around to all the things, and less likely to enjoy those activities. There is less time to be a kid.
Yesterday I talked a bit about thinking back on my own childhood. It was not very busy. The things I remember most are going to a family friend’s house on the weekend with my mom, where my brother and I would run around with other kids, make homemade pizza, drink cocoa in the winter, and generally have fun – with no set activities. We made it up as we went along.
The summers were spent at the lake, boating, swimming, water skiing. The winters were spent snowmobiling and ice skating out on a farm pond. I don’t remember any organized activities until I was in middle school. Yet, here I am, putting my kids in sports at the age of five.
Don’t get me wrong, I love sports, I love watching my kids in sports, and they enjoy it immensely – that is why we have continued. However, I do recognize the differences from when I was younger. It is more competitive now. The seasons are longer, they have more off-season options (that are less like options and more like necessities) for clinics and camps. It almost seems like if you don’t put your child in sports to learn them *enough* before 3rd grade, you can’t put them in sports anymore.
The Fear of Missing Out.
In my quest for slowing down, I need to start taking these thoughts into account. I can’t have the kids in three different activities each…first we would never be able to get the kids to all the places they need to be, and second, we don’t want to.
I missed family dinners this past basketball season. And it wasn’t just because of basketball, it was theater, it was late work nights and meetings. Of course we can’t slow every aspect of our lives, but there need to be choices, and you cannot make a choice based on fear.
What is the answer then? How do you overcome the fear of missing out?
I think that to every person it will be different. Based on some of the comments I got yesterday, I know that some people thrive in being busy – but those people are busy on purpose, it is what feeds them, and gives them energy.
I am not one of those people. And while I thought that perhaps my oldest was one of those people, now I am not so sure. She was definitely busier than usual this past fall, and I thought she was enjoying it, until December when she was done. She still wanted to do her activities because she saw them as social times, but she didn’t want the commitment. She wanted the freedom of not having a specific schedule to follow.
That is what it comes down to for us. We want to be able to have the freedom to choose what our next step will be. I’m not sure if organized sports are really what we need. It might be a family day of being outside like Renee and her family, it might be having a planned day of unplugging from technology, perhaps it is letting the kids have more control over their own schedules – instead of signing them up for the sports and activities they have done in the past, maybe they create a minecraft group or a book club or just a group of friends to hang out with whenever, they get to choose.
Learning to overcome the fear of missing out is something that is difficult. We are faced with a constant barrage of “better.” Whether it is the vacation pictures your friend posted on Facebook, or that Instagram picture you saw of a child testing for their next belt. Maybe it is that blogger that took an amazing retreat weekend while you can barely get to the bathroom alone. It could be anything.
But, if we let those images flood our brains, instead of living our lives on purpose, we are chasing something that we don’t necessarily want. Or even if we do want it, we are disappointed in the small steps that we are making towards that goal when it seems like it was so utterly easy for someone else to get to achieve.
We can’t forget about the struggles that every person faces every day. I know it isn’t popular to talk about the struggles, but they are there, everyone has them. What may be a struggle for me may be a breeze for you, and vice versa.
I think the key is to not fall into that comparison trap. Just because I would love to be able to knit my kids all sweaters, and I know many wonderful bloggers that accomplish that over and over again, I need to be happy with doing a few rows here and there on a table runner. I should be happy about my own progress without measuring it against anyone else’s.
This year as I am exploring over and over again how to gain more margin in my life, I realize I need to set my own standards. I should be looking at my life in comparison to my life last year, and my life five years before that. That is the only measure that matters.
No one should desire exactly the same thing as me. While the pictures may be pretty, and I may say “oh, I definitely want that,” I need to evaluate it further. I need to look at my life, what direction I want to go in, and see if that is the right path.
I am definitely in a season of reflection. I think that is warranted after a busy season that seemed to drag me along instead of my forging ahead. It is a constant battle to make sure I am living rightly for me, for my family. My hope is that over the next several weeks I can come up with a good plan for moving ahead. As my kids get older, they will be involved in life and other activities, and I want to make sure I balance out the structure with the freedom. I want my kids to experience the choices of life, and learn to make good decisions. In order for them to succeed, I also need to learn to make these good decisions.
In order to beat the fear of missing out, I need to be willing to face the hard facts in my own life. I need to look at what I want to do and see if this shiny new thing I saw on Pinterest actually fits in with individual and family goals.
It is exciting to know that there is a path specifically for me; one that not everyone will agree with, but hopefully I will be respected for forging my own way. It is another part of the journey of life. Taking the time for my family to slow down is a big part of that journey and figuring out what is next.
Do you experience the fear of missing out? What are your strategies to move ahead?