It’s a typical Friday, and Jane is a junior in college. She has one class in the morning, and then she usually heads back to her room to get some homework done. However, instead of studying, Jane sits in her bed, scrolling through her phone, and tries to decide what she should do that night. She finds out there is a party going on that night. Even though she has a ton of homework to do, Jane decides to go. After all, even if she doesn’t go, she’ll just sit in her room and worry about what she’s missing.
The fear of missing out is usually referred to as FOMO. Essentially, FOMO is the fear that no matter what you do, you’re going to miss out on something. And the “something” you miss out on will be the important thing that you shouldn’t have missed. It’s a pretty common phenomenon for college students, who, unfortunately, cannot be in two places at once. FOMO is so common that it has been added to the Oxford Dictionary.
College is a time where we are supposed to be developing two tracks. We’re supposed to be making connections with our peers, creating friendships and maybe some are even getting the chance to have a serious romantic relationship. But we’re also supposed to be making advancements towards our future careers. It’s pretty difficult to balance the two.
So, in this case, FOMO actually makes a lot of sense. What if I don’t go to that party and meet the man of my dreams? What if I don’t go and my best friend finds a new buddy? But, if I do go and don’t get my homework done, I might not do well in this class. Then I might not be able to get the perfect summer internship that will help me get the perfect job once I graduate. It’s a very confusing spot to be in.
Although FOMO may always be a part of life, there are some things you can do to make it better. Firstly, remember, you’re not always missing out. People tend to always put their best foot out on social media, but it’s not necessarily the true story. When you hear your friends talking about new experiences you missed out on, take it with a grain of salt. They might only be telling you the good sides, and they certainly aren’t telling you about their own struggles with FOMO.
Social media can also cause a lot of the FOMO found in college. A recent study from Time Magazine found that social media users who consistently looked at Facebook upon waking up, meal times, and going to sleep at night suffered from a significantly higher rate of FOMO than their peers. While there is nothing wrong with being active on social media, if you spend all day looking at everyone’s photos and status updates, it may be best to take a break for a little while and focus on yourself.
Students have plenty of time to experience everything their college has to offer. When the pressure to go everywhere and do everything starts to take its toll, sometimes it’s best to just take the night off. Even if your mental health day means you missed that party or special event everyone was talking about all week, rest assured there should be another one right around the corner.
Lindsay Gibbons can be contacted