I wanted to be popular, so I signed up for 10 CCAs
Tay Yi Peng // March 19, 2020, 12:04 am
Growing up, I bought the idea that one had to be loud and extroverted to command the attention of others. To me, it seemed that these traits boosted one’s popularity.
And going into university, I had one thought: “I want to be that popular kid. I want to be liked and well-received.”
When I first moved into my hall, I signed up to try out for a total of 10 hall CCAs. Yes, 10.
There was this unspoken notion that being zai was proportionally related to the number of hall CCAs one was involved in. Taking part in more CCAs also meant having more friends.
Though I was new to hall life, I had already noticed the differences. There were people who would be greeted by others along the corridors. And there would be those who nobody greeted – the hall phantom.
Deep down, I yearned to be the cool kid who gained the affirmation of her hall mates. And on top of wanting to be affirmed by my hall mates, I was also super FOMO.
This fear of missing out turned out to be costly.
I would turn up for almost every supper night that my hall mates organised. I would leave the door of my hall room open and not sleep until my hall mates had slept – just to know what everyone else was doing.
This went on for two whole months before I hit my breaking point. I was worn out and I had no time to myself. Overwhelmed by fatigue, I cried out to God: “I can’t do this anymore!”
Though I was present at most of the hall activities, I felt lonely and weary of trying so hard to feel accepted by my hall mates.
At that moment, God spoke to me through the lyrics of “Who You Say I Am“. The song pointed me back to simple truths that I really needed to hear – that I am a child of God, and that He has never once forsaken me.
As God reminded me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), I knew that I no longer had to try so hard to become somebody that I wasn’t. I was created by a perfect God.
This led to a paradigm shift in how I approached my hall life.
I realised that God had placed me in my hall to live a life that was set apart (1 Peter 2:9), so that others may see God through the way I live.
I then found it easier to say “no” to activities so that I could recharge in my own space and spend time with God. Prioritising my time with God then expanded my bandwidth to better love and care for the people around me.
Today, I have learnt to move out of my comfort zone. I’ve begun initiating one-on-one meet-ups with my hall mates just so that I can get to know them better personally. One of them eventually came for my church’s Christmas service and even received Christ!
As I intentionally built friendships with my hall mates, I learnt the importance of living above reproach. My decision-making process shifted from wanting to have fun, to one that was more outward-looking: Would the decisions that I make stumble my pre-believing friends?
I also realised that my FOMO about hall life meant that I had compromised on my time spent with my family, as I was busy turning up for every single hall activity.
Recently during Chinese New Year, my cell group came over to my house for lunch. As they spoke to my mum, I gleaned from her responses that she barely knew anything about my life.
It was a rude awakening for me as I realised how our family has been living quite independently of one another.
As a result, I’ve set aside my Friday and Sunday nights for family dinners. And as I availed myself in obedience, I saw how both my mum and sister opened up to me.
I’m glad that I’ve changed from being FOMO about hall activities to being FOMO about the things of God.
As He affirms His love for me, I rest in the assurance that I’m precious in His sight. This security in Him has shifted me to focus on building what’s eternal – His kingdom.
What are you FOMO-ing about today?
THINK + TALK
- How have you been managing your time?
- Are your decisions motivated by a fear of missing out?
- How can you build more meaningful and personal friendships?