Throughout high school and even most of college (especially towards the end #senioritis), I felt like I was just biding my time. I only needed to make it through this week, this project, this semester, this year so I could move on to the next thing to propel my life forward. I wanted to get out of school, out of the situation I was in or out of that particular stage of life.
Now, I'm out of both high school and college, but I'm somehow still finding ways to perpetuate this feeling of being stuck into my "adult" life. I'm stuck in a weird limbo between my college job and what I want to be my actual career. I know I want to get married and have a family, but I know that will come later as well. I want to travel to so many places, but it's so expensive and I need to get ahold of my finances. I want to move to California, but I want all these other things to happen first.
It's a weird and constant phenomenon, this feeling of stuckness. Sometimes it feels like I'm impatient. Sometimes I feel afraid I'll never get to do these things. Sometimes I even feel like giving up and taking the easy route, even though I know I will regret it in the long run.
You could call this a fear of missing out, but it's a different kind of FOMO than the typical I'm-not-partying-with-my-friends-right-now regret that is often discussed in this context. It's what I've coined "Existential FOMO."
Existential FOMO is not something of which I'm proud. It's a trivial and maybe even selfish feeling. I know I should be content to live in the present. I should focus on getting to the stages of life I'm looking forward to instead of being discontent that I'm not already there.
To be completely honest, yes, I need to just suck it up and be grateful for everything I've already experienced. I went to a decent college and got a four-year degree. I may not have traveled everywhere I want to go yet, but I've been to some neat places already, like the Grand Canyon and Washington, D.C. I'm not in my dream career of writing science fiction scripts yet, but I'm (hopefully) on my way to things that will allow me to get on the right path.
I know this existential FOMO is irrational at its root. I know it's a symptom of my anxiety. My anxiety is the irrational fear of the future, but it's also telling me that my ideal version of the future is never going to happen. And who knows? Maybe there's some truth in my anxious feelings about my future. Maybe deep down, I know I'm dreaming too big.
But that's not my call. I have to keep pursuing the life I plan because I'll never be able to figure out if it's right unless I try.
You see, it's like a big, scary final exam in your favorite subject. You know all the answers, but you just can't seem to remember them in that moment of anxiety.
I know that my life will work out for the best, but I just can't seem to remember this when I feel that existential FOMO.
Psalm 46 reminds me that even though the world moves on around us, God is in control. When I feel overwhelmed by these feelings of discontent, I try to remember to just breathe, and "be still" (verse 10).
If you've ever felt like you don't have enough time or you'll never get out of your current stage of life, just know you are not alone. Take a minute with me and let's stand in the present, content with where we are.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
-Psalm 46: 4-6