Hello. My name’s Elyse, and I have a fear of missing out (also known as FOMO).

I remember a few years back some friends of mine went on a vacation to Bali, because that’s what you do when you live in Australia--you fly to Bali and pay to have your hair braided so tight that you can almost see your brain thinking. And then you take photos and caption them with ‘just another day in paradise,’ with the hashtag #TheStruggleIsReal.

So my friends came back a week later with their suntans and stories, and I was so jealous. You know the crazy thing? I had just been to Bali a few weeks before them with a good friend of mine, and we had the best time ever… Suntans and stories of our own! So why was I so upset?

Because I wasn’t on their trip. I didn’t have their memories. I wasn’t included in their photos. 

The way I saw it, I missed out. I get it. It sounds selfish. It totally is. Youngest child, remember?

And it wasn’t the only time I’ve felt that irrational pang of jealousy or emptiness, and you know what I’m talking about. When you hear about that event you weren’t invited to, or you see another Facebook status of someone else getting engaged, when you’re just trying to get someone to ask you to coffee. It’s that sting of pain that hits your heart before you can give yourself a pep talk of perspective.

Whether we want to hear it or not, it’s true. Aren’t we all just scared of missing the moment? 

I don’t want to be left out of the Instagram photo. I want to be included in all of the statuses and tagged in all of the photos and invited to all of the events. I don’t want to have to ask what I missed; I want to be the one people ask.

As a generation, as humanity, we have such a fear, not of over-committing but of under-committing. We think that saying no to an invite somehow means saying no to life. We assume we will regret rest because we won’t be seen on ‘the scene.’ 

And so we hold our breath and refresh our phones and spend our night checking to make sure their night didn’t include a post-worthy moment. Because that would mean we missed out. And that would make us feel anxious, lonely, and rejected. Am I right? I’m totally right.

When did we get so obsessed with being everywhere, with everyone, every time we’re asked?

Social media. I love it and hate it so much. It’s the popular group at school -- I’m fine to tell you how pathetic it is, but what I don’t want to admit is that I still want to be apart of it. And so here we are, with our Instagram approval now determining our inner approval. 

But I think if we could pause for a moment, you and I would tell each other the same thing. Our fear of missing out is just another manifestation of something deeper, comparison. We all struggle with it, and we all wish we didn’t. 

We’ve all had moments of comparing ourselves with the people around us, instead of accepting the person within us, and looking to the One who created us.

The truth is comparison affects us all. Before we were keeping up with the Kardashians, we were keeping up with the Jones’s, and yet the Bible warns us against both. In 2 Corinthians 10:12 Paul says “…but when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.”

Comparison is written about so much in the Bible because it is not a selective issue, it is no respecter of person, it has affected us since the beginning. In Genesis, God placed Adam and Eve in the most beautiful garden, with everything they could desire. They were so full with joy, until they realized there was another option, and that other option would steal their joy. 

Comparison. The thief of joy. 

This comparison came along in the form of a serpent in Genesis chapter 3, and he began to question the boundaries God had put in place for them. He began to tell Eve of the things they were “missing” and Eve listened to him. She disobeyed God because she didn’t want to miss out, and yet that decision actually caused her to miss out on all God had for her, for her husband, and for mankind. How ironic. 

So it started with Eve, but it continues with us. The same issue of comparison Eve had in the garden, we have in 2016. Different temptations. Different technology. Same fear. 

And yet perhaps the more we commit our emotions to Him, our Creator; the less we need the emoticons. The more we are completely honest with our feelings, the less we need a filter.

I want to learn to embrace myself, filter free. And I think you should too, because you are the beauty behind the post, and you have been created in the image of the Master. We are His masterpiece. And our validation doesn’t come from a Valencia filter, or Mayfair, or Nashville. Our validation comes from Heaven. 

So post that photo, but not at the expense of the memory. And once you post it? Put your feet up, relax and smile. You haven’t missed out on a thing. Today, be FOMO free. Be filter free. Just be free.

As Seen In Propel Magazine -- July 2016