Ah, FOMO — the Fear Of Missing Out. It’s such a real thing in college, which I just started about five weeks ago. Someone always seems to be doing something cooler, more exciting, more groundbreaking, more challenging, and overall more amazing than you. There are people who always seem to be able to participate in the fun activities happening around campus, and I wonder to myself: Do they ever do homework? How are they always able to say “yes” to every activity? All of the worry and insecurity wrapped in my desperation to “keep up with the Joneses” is distracting and exhausting, and doesn’t actually help me get any work done or hang out with the people who are becoming my friends. Yet, it’s virtually inescapable.
And, so, I’ve been trying to live Romans 12:2 — “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” St. Paul reminds the Romans that social pressures and stresses do nothing for us; not for our worldly thoughts and plans, nor for our spiritual life or relationship with God. We are called to “be transformed” and “to discern what is the will of God,” which sounds like a pretty tall order. Really, St. Paul is asking us to critically engage with our spiritual lives, checking up on ourselves and where we find ourselves in our spiritual journeys. For myself, I’ve been interpreting his words as a call to silence my stressing subconscious and to take time for myself amidst the chaos of school and social life.
One of my classes assigned us to “Take a Breath on the Bluff” twice each week, spending fifteen minutes in solitude and reflection. No other people, no music, no eating, no sleeping — simply being present with ourselves in that particular moment with no specific agenda rather than to “be.” At first, it was so difficult to sit on a bench alone (staring at an albeit pretty view), purposefully doing nothing. There was always another piece of homework to turn in, another club meeting to run to, another person to meet — I almost felt guilty during my sessions of solitude. But I’ve grown to see that “doing nothing often leads to the very best something” (wisdom courtesy of one very wise bear, Winnie the Pooh).
From kindergarteners to college students, those who are working to those who are not, we are all guilty of becoming caught up in the social stratification of life. It’s no one’s fault. We humans learn about ourselves and about the world in relationship to the experiences and narratives of others. But it’s easy to compare ourselves to each other that way. So take a moment this week to empty your mind of as much worry, stress, and anxiety as possible. Go outside, take a few deep breaths, and feel your mind settle. A settled mind can so much more easily discern the will of God, because it can remember “[t]hat there is no fear in love, but [that] perfect love drives out fear” (John 4:17). No matter how stressful, emotionally-draining, or time-consuming social situations can be, nothing will change the fact that God will walk at your side always, full to the bursting with non-fearing, perfect love.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
Saint Brendan Church in San Francisco. Check out our exciting featured news articles.