Why is it that our lives have sped away from us? Sped out of control to the point that we have all become addicts to some degree, to… a nightly bottle of red wine, painkillers, anti-inflammatories, other prescribed drugs, perhaps illegal ‘recreational’ drugs, to supplements, to fad diets, to our devices, to social media, to self deprecating narratives, or what about the go-to for those too time strapped to actually train healthy but want to give off the appearance of being healthy… hi intensity interval training [HiiT]. It seems the goal is to live life at break neck, heart attack, or stroke speeds, with the winner being the one hospitalized last. Not sure how any of this is considered ‘winning’ but it seems its what passes as winning these days. What’s behind it all? As far as I can tell its either…
FEAR of FALLING BEHIND
FEAR of MISSING OUT
Which one is it for you?
The fear of falling behind… where the thought of slowing down, or stopping even momentarily to lift your head from your busy-ness to look around and take inventory of where you are, results in panic attack type signs and symptoms. We “know” we should slow down, we sometimes put in an effort to slow down, but deep down we know we can’t. Because if we do… we will fall behind, so even when trying to slow down we still threaten ourselves that we are risking falling behind. Others fight on to keep pace by threatening themselves with narratives such as “we won’t be unable to get back up to speed, so stay at speed… that way we can’t fall behind.”
Or perhaps it is…
The fear of missing out… where the thought of even the slightest gap between you and your ‘community’ is so threatening that not fitting in, not being part of the ‘in crowd’, not being atop the social hierarchy triggers its own set of panic attack signs and symptoms. With social media the fear of missing out has grown to levels previously unimagineable: our communities are now available 24/7 online, therefore we must be able to access our devices so that we can check every notification our devices alert us to… otherwise the risk is… we missed out (on what… doesn’t matter, the rule is you simply cannot miss out on anything).
Ferris Bueller put it this way… “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Which fear threatens us more is irrelevant, as long as we can trigger a fear we feel safe that we can re-stimulate our adrenal, thyroid, hypothalamus and pituitary glands into full out panic mode to deliver us the hormonal boost to keep us carrying on. That living feasting on fear to motivate us matters not. That living this way compromises our physical, mental and emotional health, matters not. All that we can hope is that there will be a pill or surgery that will fix us when needed. That living this way costs us our identity, our uniqueness, our individuality… matters not: we sold our souls to live as a member of the herd to feel the security and stability of the herd (albeit false security and stability), it at least feels like the real thing and we tell ourselves… that’s all that matters. But why do we do it? Why do we sell out to the herd?
Because the chaos that comes with living a life as an individual… is a cost we are unwilling to consider. We sell ourselves on the narrative that its easier to live in anonymity, to live as an unknown, where the goal is to fit in, look like everyone else, sound like everyone else, be like everyone else. After all… isn’t that what our parents told us was the path to success, isn’t that what school told us was the path to success, isn’t that what the media tells us is the path to success?
Wear these clothes, drive this car, live here, do these renovations, vacation here, eat like this, exercise like that, send your kids to this school, and so on… tie it all with a big red bow and you will be a success… or so we are told.
Where does it all begin? It begins typically around elementary school age… when we had dreams… and those dreams are subsequently ridiculed or we shove them deep down suppressing them til we deny that they exist because in seeing someone else – typically a classmate – ridiculed for wanting to shoot for the stars they believed were designed for them, we hide our own dreams trading our identity for a life lived in fear.
So what does it look like to live a life in FOFB (Fear of Falling Behind) or in FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)?
You start by identifying the strata in society that you want to and believe you can compete on, the level you believe will bring you happiness…. upper class, middle class, upper middle class etc…
Then you figure out what are the markers of success of living in that class, such as…
- year, make and model of the car driven [by those in that class];
- address, type of home, square footage, and typical amenities of the typical residence in that societal class;
- the number, length and exoticness of vacations taken by those in that class;
- the exclusivity of the nightlife enjoyed and so on.
Then you get to work leveraging your income up as far as possible to acquire all the ‘things’ that you need in order to identify with that class, and hopefully at the upper end of that strata so that you can strut down the street in order to express the fullness of your unique choices in life [where ‘unique’ choices in life has been dumbed-down to having chosen exposed concrete as a kitchen countertop as opposed to granite… oooh, ahhh, you are so different… wow!].
Its bullshit living because none of it is ‘you’, its an illusion you created out of fear… of falling behind or missing out. Its not you, its not what you are capable of, because what you are truly capable of lies on the other side of what society cares, on the other side of caring what society cares… but that’s living an entirely different existence, a life which is not lived out of fear.
Nothing good, absolutely nothing good comes out of a life lived out of fear. In the end, the debt accumulated from acquiring all the items required to continue to deceiving yourself and the community you are trying to fit in takes you down, or disease from the duplicity of leading a double life, a life apart from the reality of who you truly are takes you down. We all like to get into the details of how we get taken down (as in playing the victim card)… but the point is being missed: its not that you developed a chronic or terminal disease or that your debts are about to destroy you, its that you have been living a lie hoping you could get away with it.
There is an escape path from FOFB and FOMO.
There is an alternative manner of living.
Its living your life authentically… no lies, 100% true to you, with integrity and honesty, committed to your purpose, to your path.
It starts with believing that you were created uniquely:
- God knows you intimately: “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30)
- God knew you before he made you: “before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee” (Jeremiah 1:5)
- You belong to God: “I have called [thee] by thy name; thou [art] mine” (Isaiah 43:1)
- God has a plan for you: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
If you were uniquely created, with a unique path, a unique destiny, a unique life then why on earth are you wasting your life living copying others? Living to keep up with those who have sold their souls to keeping up with the Joneses (or more appropriately these days.. the Kardashians)? Do you not think that the root of your profound discomfort, dis-ease, and dysfunction could have anything to do with living a life so detached from who you truly are, from how and where you are supposed to be living that it is literally tearing you apart from the inside-out?
There are only two ways to live… you can live life in fear, or you can decide to embark on a life lived fearlessly. One requires no training, just sell yourself to the path society is taking. The other path requires nothing but training… because to live fearlessly is to live daily challenging the status quo, confronting the ideologies of what is considered normal/acceptable, conquering the narratives that enslave us… weakening us, depleting us, stealing from us our potential, stealing a life at its fullest.
Today in sport age group (youth) and age category (master) athletes express FOFB and FOMO no differently than in the rest of their lives…
Afraid that their child will fall behind if they aren’t “doing what everyone else is doing”, parents enroll their children in Swim Ontario affiliated swim clubs where the majority of coaches fail to properly train children into athletes, fail at instilling and helping children develop habits of athleticism that will yield success and instead send children insufficiently and inappropriately prepared into competition. That children are dropping out of organized sport due to the excessive expectations of being sent immediately into competition, and excessive expectations placed on outcomes in these competitions… matters not because FOFB and FOMO reign.
Afraid that they will fall behind if they aren’t “doing what everyone else is doing”, adults sign up for triathlons, typically Ironman distance events, marathons, ultramarathons, and cycling grandfondos believing that if they do it, survive to cross the finish line and receive their participation medal… then they are keeping up with everyone else. That ‘doing’ an event has absolutely no correlation to health or becoming healthier… matters not because FOFB and FOMO reign.
The choice is yours…
Live your life, or live a make-up life.
Its one or the other as there is no in-between.