Fear of missing out. It’s that internal compulsion to attend a party we don’t really want to go to, or to hang out with friends for a little longer than you really should. It’s the sense of panic we feel when we see a pic of all of our friends together, laughing, or a long thread on a meme that reveals the worst news possible: you’ve missed out. Big time. They’ll be laughing about those jokes for years to come (or so we tell ourselves).
A quick Google search shows that people have been writing articles about FOMO and anxiety for a few years now, which means that it’s practically ancient news. But don’t worry! Since we are so good at devising ways to be anxious, we have found a new thing to worry about.
Ladies and gentlemen, FOPM is the new FOMO. Admittedly, it doesn’t really roll off the tongue quite as nicely. So what’s responsible for this new clumsy acronym? Well, current research is starting to show that a predominant fear in this emerging generation is a life of passionless monotony. That’s right. Fear of Passionless Monotony, where the worst possible thing in life is being locked into a repetitive or boring career that doesn’t engage the heart (why bother, right!?). Boomers and Gen Xers wanted to “settle down”, have a family, and one stable career that would support said family. Millenials and Gen Z, on the other hand, desperately want to keep their options open. It seems Millenials are always talking about side hustles and their four-hour workweek so they can retire at the ripe old age of 35 or 40 and move to Bali with no responsibilities.
The idea of “settling down” makes many of us uncomfortable. Even those of us who desire to be married and have kids still seem to long for adventure or a thrill. We don’t want stability to detract from passion, and making an impact.
The antidote to a boring life
What if I told you that I know a way to make sure you can have it all? Just kidding, no one can “have it all.” But we can have an exciting life that is not dependant on our career or lack thereof. Our eternal job at Starbucks (despite having a PhD) doesn’t have to be depressing. Being either underqualified or overqualified for literally everything in life doesn’t have to feel like a trap. The answer is not a side hustle. Well, I guess it kind of is. The answer is Jesus. Make Jesus your side hustle and your life will never be boring. Here’s how:
- Read your Bible a ton. Get creative how you read it. Try Inductive Bible Studies, Book studies, the Bible in a Year plans, Bible in 90 days plans, small group studies to learn in community.
- Keep taking steps of faith. Exercise your faith muscle regularly by doing evangelism, praying faith-stretching prayers, inviting God to challenge and change you, and in continually partnering with the Spirit.
- Dig deep in Church community. Community is another way we are sharpened and challenged. Just like walking across campus behind a group of really slow people, there’s nothing quite like community to test our patience and show us our need for Christ. It’s also a place where we can learn to grow in vulnerability, create a safe space for others, and learn to love in a new way.
If you choose to live your life each day chasing hard after Jesus, submitting your mind to Christ, and walk by faith instead of fear you will not be bored. You will not feel trapped by monotony because you will hear the voice of God calling you deeper, challenging your personal idols, and ripping the ugly bits off of you like a surprise wax job.
There is nothing boring about it.
A little painful? You bet. Exciting, certainly! Monotonous, perhaps, at times. But passionless? Well, I can’t guarantee that if you follow my three steps you will never lack passion. I can pretty much guarantee that it will not be terribly monotonous.
Do you want to be someone who is guided by fear or by faith?
I know what I want. It’s why I’ve been hanging around these people at P2C For 12 years: they help keep me focused on faith.