FOMO: Confessions of a people pleaser

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Photo: Isobell Tregoweth

These are my reflections since our last Grace Collective Event: FOMO. The fear of missing out is something which plagues our generation. We over commit in capacity and under commit in quality, or we do nothing because we cannot decide what to do! At our event we had three guest speakers who challenged us on how this attitude aligns (or doesn’t) with the kind of life that Jesus calls us to. I personally was inspired by the stories from those who have given up pursuing multiple dreams and chosen to commit to something through all kinds of seasons, who don’t just duck out when things get tough or boring. This is so counter-cultural in our society! So counter-cultural to my life so far! So here is my rant:

I am a people pleaser.

One of my biggest fears is letting people down.

For me, FOMO is not so much about missing out on the fun I believe everyone else will be having without me, but more, missing out on opportunities to please people.

If I say no, will they be disappointed, will they feel I don’t care about them or their cause, will I be seen as lazy, as selfish?

So for a long time, I pretty much said yes to everything.
I cannot recall the number of times I have gone to events begrudgingly, because although I said yes in the moment the reality is that I now  feel exhausted and the last thing I want to do is go to another event where I have to muster up enthusiasm from some part of me that I can’t locate.

Luckily – I noticed the toll this was taking on me, and on a lot of my peers too.
I started to realise that I was doing so many things, but not many things well, and I was running on empty most of the time.

The first time I was asked to go be part of something and I actually thought about what else I had on and how much I could really invest into it, and then came to the very logical conclusion that I didn’t have time or energy to invest well, and replied to their request with my most feared word… NO…

I felt amazing!

And when I heard the response; “That’s totally understandable, it’s pretty wise of you to know your limits and focus on what important.”

It felt even better!

I realised that people won’t hate me if I don’t make it to every event on the calendar!

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Photo: Isobell Tregoweth

I also realised that what is much more satisfying for my soul, is allowing enough time in my week to be replenished, to re-focus on what is in front of me, and to simply rest.

For me sometimes this looks like staying home to just journal, or pray, or read, or watch a good show. And although for the first 20 minutes (especially if I know other people are out doing something that I could be part of) I feel restless and agitated, once I allow myself to let go of that fear of needing to please others ALL THE TIME, I love hiding away and doing my thing.

For me FOMO is about pleasing people.
Which means it is about finding my worth in how others perceive me to be spending my time.
Which means it is about me, finding my worth in the wrong places.

God says that before I have done anything, produced anything, achieved anything, or attended anything, I am intrinsically valued. Nothing I can do increases or decreases my value in his eyes. From this place of knowing my worth, I find it a lot easier to invest in less, more. To commit to healthy consistent rhythms, which benefit me and others. To maybe say no to something, because I am choosing to focus on something that God has already put in my hands, even if appears to have less worldly value or be attended by less of my friends. To maybe say no to something, because I feel God gently calling me to rest with him for a while and stop performing.

When I find my worth in God I can walk with open hands and not cling to every opportunity to find an ounce of worth in something else. I can see the good in opportunities that pass me, but find peace in investing in the opportunity that is in front of me.

The funny thing about living a life ruled by the fear of missing out is that it can make us miss out on the true value of everything. We live on a surface level and are afraid to dive into anything and experience any depth that comes from commitment to a cause.

I don’t want to live a shallow life.


Katie is a social work student and youth minister at St Johns Campbell’s Bay. Katie MCs our cafe events and writes for our blog (as well as being a member of our core team!). Katie is originally from England (and has the coolest accent to prove it). She loves writing, poetry and being active.

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