Sorry, I'm Just A Lemon Tree
I was having a serious discussion with a friend about FOMO. If you don’t already know, FOMO is an abbreviation for ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. I think the term began as a funny concept but it’s now turned into a more serious thing with the evolution of social media.
I was a major sufferer of FOMO in various different stages of my life.
In school, when my friends were allowed to travel without parental supervision and I still wasn’t.
That family vacation to Hawaii I missed out on because I was in uni.
When my family went on fun holidays but I could never be a part of it because of my office job.
Ok, clearly travelling means a lot to me. Anyway…
Everyone has felt FOMO at one point in their lives. Humans are social creatures after all—we all want to feel like we are a part of something and one of the ways we achieve that is by sharing common experiences with other people and that can be anything starting from socialising together to graduating from uni at the same time as our peers.
Because of the way that we are, it’s very normal to want, or even feel pressured, to achieve and have the same things as others.
If people are happy with their jobs, those who aren’t may feel something is wrong with them. If people are moving up the ladder in their company, those who aren’t may feel like their career is moving too slowly. If people are getting married, many people who aren’t may feel like they’re unlovable. If people are having kids, then those who aren’t or can’t may feel really inadequate.
When we have a fragile or distorted sense of self-worth to begin with, it’s easy to feel very dissatisfied with ourselves and our lives when we don’t have what others have. This is because we tie or self-worth to things we don’t have control over.
I was talking to friend B and she told me after she got married and had kids, her single friends became really insecure around her and some even confessed their insecurities to her. I’ve heard of similar experiences from other ladies, before. B told me she started feeling pressured to share less of her family life on social media and also felt bad for talking about it to people.
While it’s true we have a duty to be more considerate and sensitive of what we share on social media or what we talk about with other people, there are only so many things we can apologise for and hide. After a while, it’s not always possible to hide everything about our lives, especially milestones. Any feelings of insecurity that we have should always be reflected on.
The Flip Side
Whether you know it or not, all of us have been on both sides of the FOMO equation. We are either the ones causing people to feel like they’re missing out or we’re the ones who feel that we are missing out. Either way, it’s not nice to be envied or to feel envious and insecure over what others have.
But if you do find yourself feeling inadequate, insecure and upset with how you are progressing compared to other people in your lives, remember this:
Every aspect of our lives develops at different rates—that’s just how it is. You can’t have everything in your life grow uniformly at the same.
Not all of us are meant to progress at the same pace. Some of us will achieve great career milestones before others. Some of us will achieve great spiritual maturity before others. Some of us will have a family life before others. That’s just the way it is; we aren’t factory made. We were made to grow at different rates.
You Are In The Right Place
There’s wisdom behind the timings of things. A lot of times when we want things to go at a certain rate, it’s because we do not have foresight of what will happen if things went our way. Trust Allāh to know how fast and how slowly our life should go because He has placed where we are now because it is where we are meant to be.
We are where we are now because here is where we have to be in order to grow into the person that we need to be.
I told B that all of us are like different trees in a garden. A coconut tree isn’t going to apologise to the rambutan tree for being so tall because that’s just how it’s been created to be. At one point, it’ll surpass the height of all other trees in the garden but at the same time, it’ll never be as big and strong as the rambutan tree. It’ll never bear as many fruits as a rambutan tree but no one ever complains about how a coconut tree is. It’s appreciated for the way that it is, not what it isn’t.
Someone else’s success is not your failure. In fact, it has nothing to do with you.
I told B: Someone else’s success doesn’t have to be a measuring stick for my own success. I happen to be a lemon tree!