You’ve heard of FOMO; now get ready for FOPO.

My primary goal for this “30 in 30” challenge is to get into the habit of writing consistently. I don’t have a lot of pressure to be an impressive writer because I think I have about six followers. So instead, I’ve been focusing on being consistent, being disciplined, and finding my writing voice. After this challenge, I may start another one – maybe to improve my blog design or optimize my blog on search engines. But, more than anything, this challenge is to further affirm my ability to set and commit to a goal.

At some point, though, I am not only writing for myself. I think blogs are a way to connect with other people, and I expect that my work will be shared with more people. However, as more people see it, I am worried that they’ll negatively critique my portfolio. I’m experiencing pre-FOPO – the fear of other people’s opinions.

In his article, Gervais states that the root of FOPO is our worry of social disapproval. This dates back to our times as hunter-gatherers and is still with us today. I believe there is some utility in assimilating, not standing out from the pack. But we’re not hunter-gatherers anymore. A closed mouth won’t get fed, so if you want something, you have to speak up and ask for what you want. This is a hard lesson I had to learn.

To get over FOPO, Gervais’ solution is developing a solid sense of self. Almost like having a personal mission statement. Instead, he suggests creating your own catchphrase like “always fight” or “never back down.” When you have a strong sense of who you are and what you believe, you are less concerned about what people think about you. If you know, without any doubt, what a “yes” is for you, you’ll be able to say “no” with conviction.

Gervais provides some tips for developing one’s personal philosophy. One suggestion is to see what words or ideas resonate with you the most and use those words to make your phrase. To that end, I saw a quote in a colleague’s email signature from Booker T. Washington, a true BOSS. In his book, Up from Slavery, he offers the following:

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

Booker T. Washington, “Up from Slavery”

This resonated with me because I spend a lot of time comparing myself to other people who’ve had fewer obstacles to overcome than me. In those moments, I feel inferior and like I’m behind. I feel like I should have already achieved more. But this quote reminded me that I had a unique and challenging journey and that I should focus on where I came from rather than comparing myself to people who have had different life experiences.

Gervais closes his article by reminding us that we only grow when pushed beyond our limits. And one limit I’ve had is that I want everyone to like me to feel accepted. So I’ve tried not to ruffle too many feathers, and I’ve also consistently put other people’s needs ahead of mine, even when it was to my detriment. Although to be fair, I’ve also been selfish and had disregard for other people’s feelings. Still, my natural inclination is to shy away from conflict and suffer in silence. But I don‘t have to let FOPO stop me from breaking out of this shell. On the contrary, by understanding who Bruce is, I can be more confident in my decisions and less dependent on what other people think of me.