One of the most powerful truths we can learn is that we don’t have to do, act, and be everything to everyone all of the time. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to walk away from something that doesn’t serve us. It’s okay to lean away from what we think we're ‘supposed’ to do and pursue something else. And perhaps most importantly, it’s okay to not feel pressured to ‘keep up’ with everyone and everything around us.
This is essential to learn in our teen years. But unfortunately, these truths don’t always conceptualize until we’re older. Or for some of us, until we have children and watch them fall into the holes we’ve only just managed to crawl out of.
See, there’s a pressure—often unconscious—to ‘keep up’ with the people around us, to compare, to ‘fit in,’ and to not be left out or left behind. There’s this belief that in order to be happy or successful (or insert whatever positive adjective here) we need to have the ‘right’ clothes and friends, be at the ‘best’ parties, and have the most aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feeds.
But what if that was all a lie?
What if the best way to move through life wasn’t by constantly comparing, adding items to our schedules, and attending every social outing?
What if the best way to live was by abandoning every single thing the world says and leaning into the truth about who we are and who our Creator is?
Stop Feeling The Pressure To ‘Prove’
We are a metrics-driven world. ‘Likes’ and ‘shares’ plague our feeds, the number of people around us dictates our worth, and there’s a dollar sign associated with everything we say, do, or attend.
But the truth is that none of this really matters in the grand scheme of things.
Because as we grow, we recognize that real friends won’t care about how our hair looks or how many touchdowns we’ve made, won’t keep a list of the parties we’ve attended or skipped, and won’t care whether we’ve made mistakes in the past.
The people who will be in our lives are the ones we will choose—who have seen us both at our best and worst—and accept, love, and value us anyways.
And, we’ll attract them once we recognize life is not about being anyone other than who we are.
How To Stop ‘Keeping Up’
The idea of ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out) is so prevalent when we’re young. We get caught up in who’s dating who, who’s going where, and how we ‘fit’ (or don’t) in these perceived social groups and hierarchies.
What we don’t realize, though—especially when we’re young—is that none of these things actually matter. At some point, we’ll reach the age where looking attractive, modifying our appearance to fit someone else’s ‘ideal,’ and feeling the pressure to be everywhere just isn’t important anymore.
So, perhaps one of the most important things we can do for ourselves—and for our children—is to focus less on what everyone else is doing and more on what feels right to us.
The truth is, social media has become a breeding ground for comparison, not to mention anxiety (and even depression) around what we have or don’t have, what we feel, and what we lack.
But the root of the issue is identity, and where our identity rests.
It doesn’t matter who likes us or doesn’t, what parties we attend or miss, or how we look when who we are is inherently valued because of the God who made us.
Lean Into The Truths About Ourselves
Overcoming ‘FOMO’ stems from recognizing that we don’t have to be everything. We don’t have to be everywhere. And we don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of us.
We can just be ourselves.
Rather than resting our identity in the world, we can rest our identity in our God. Remember that He will never leave us out, never forsake us, and never make us feel as if we aren’t worthy enough.
We have to realize that while not everyone in the world will like us, there will be many who do. So, we can't spend our days trying to convince people to love us, or chasing those who don’t see our spark. Instead, we should invest in relationships that bring us joy. Take time to learn more about ourselves and what we feel (without the world’s influence). And spend time in prayer.
In a world where we’re taught to do, act, and be everything, remember that the only thing we need to ‘be’ is God’s beautiful creations— loved beyond measure—just as we are.