I had the same dream last night.
It is a dream I’ve had probably fifty times over the past few years. I’m at college, back at West Chester University. I’m a senior and it is the end of the semester. I have one class I need to graduate, literally one class to attend and I can’t find it. I walk around campus and can almost feel the sun on my face. The whole time, the location of the class does not reveal itself.
I search and search, never finding it. The day goes on and I start an internal debate. Do I really need it to graduate? What if I miss it? Can I graduate and somehow take it in the summer? What happens if I can’t graduate? The questions keep coming. The anxiety builds and, every time
I wake up.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a real thing that has grown from the social media boom. People spend their days looking at Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat stories and compare their lives to others. If they don’t stack up, it creates worry and anxiety.
Everything is comparison. Every picture, every filter, every vacation and creatively-shot dinner. We look at our plate and wonder why the salad isn’t as green, the steak isn’t as marbled, the wine isn’t as red and why our kids are running laps in the living room while theirs sit and eat.
Missing out translates, at the bottom line, into regret.
I’ve written before about being on the Mock Trial team in high school. After our last case, the attorney advisor told me I should consider law school. I said to Val the other night, what if I’d gone to law school? Where would we be today??
Our stories are formed in intersection and opportunity.
My cousin’s husband is a financial advisor. He told a story once that a friend in the business had called him to say, “hey man, I have this small iced tea company in upstate New York about to go public, you want in?” He passed on it. It was Snapple. Now, not every chance is that clear or easy.
Our lives are built on the foundations of our yes and our no.
Did you ever find yourself in a job you knew, without hesitation, wasn’t for you? I did direct sales in the city of Philadelphia for two weeks, in mid summer, walking around in a shirt and tie. It was not for me. I actually don’t regret taking the job as it was a learning experience but, in the end, I could have turned it down.
I believe, in the depths of my soul, that we are all called to make a difference. Someone you know, someone you talk to or email today, they need you. They need to hear your voice and they will find security in it. They need you to push, or pull, them forward towards a greater calling.
I don’t know if regret every truly goes away.
The Apostle Paul wrote often about changing his message to suit his audience. If you page through his books you’ll notice tone changes and logic progressions. Paul’s fear was not missing out, it was missing in. It was presenting what was on his heart in a way that would connect with everyone from new believers to Roman citizens and politicians.
“What if I strike out?” my son asked the other day riding home from baseball practice.
One of Val’s favorite movies is A Cinderella Story. In the movie, Hillary Duff plays the main character and, on the wall of her father’s diner is the quote, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game,” paraphrasing Babe Ruth. Ruth may not be the greatest role model, but he has a point.
We must do our best to be present, to be in the moment with those we love. To be in the moment of our choices and to have peace with the directions our lives take. We must sit in our emotions, to hurt with those in pain, to laugh until we cry, to hold a hand and stand with someone in their moment of weakness. We must know our own value and live life with an understanding that we are worth it. We are worth treating ourselves better, worth surpassing prior generations, worth stitching up our wounds and going back on the battlefield again.
It is worth striking out because adversity brings growth, because nothing changes if nothing changes.
It is worth it because someone is always watching, may it be your kids or your inner child, someone you love or someone you admire. They are watching and waiting for you to tell your story.
So step up to the plate without fear. Without regret. Take a moment and breathe.
Open your eyes and swing.