I have many irrational fears: death by bear attack, Hellman’s mayonnaise, and spontaneous tree collapses, to name a few. However, the fear of missing out has been one that has taken control of my young adult life.
Fear of missing out, or FOMO as the kids these days call it, is the idea that one will miss something important if he or she does not attend a social event or function. Ever since high school, I felt as though I had to attend every single sleepover, football game or after-school hang out solely because I felt like I was going to really miss out on something if I stayed home. And in college, my FOMO multiplied by 100. I would go out three or four nights a week just so I wouldn’t miss anything exceptionally wild or funny.
If I felt ill from a night of drinking but there was a day party going on somewhere, I’d bring my aching body to that field and force myself to have a good time. I have sacrificed homework for ‘pre-games’ and class for nursing my hangovers. And I never once have felt like the party or bar that I went to was any different from any other night of going out. I would see the same people, talk about the same subjects, and end my nights the same way: spooning a box of Antonio’s pizza in my bed. And I have ended up feeling more regret than satisfaction from reliving the same nights over and over again.
Senior year has liberated me from the FOMO that I had so endlessly experienced. Sure, I still like to go out and have a good time, but I don’t feel like I need to attend every single party, cookout, or festival that I hear about. I feel like a light switch has gone off in my head; I am finally free to do what I want to do and when, without my FOMO whispering falsities in my ear. I am no longer swamped by the amount of homework that I didn’t do, nor does my body feel like crap for continuously poisoning itself just because I felt like everybody else was doing the same thing. I must be doing this little thing called maturing, because I am loving this feeling of not giving a flying F about what the people around me are doing. Me, 1, FOMO, 0.
For all of you FOMO fanatics out there, news flash: you ain’t missin’ nothin’. If you have work to do, don’t leave it until the last minute (or in many cases, turn it in late like I did). If you secretly just want a night in to watch weird conspiracy documentaries (OK, that’s me too), abandon your homies for a night and do it. It took many years to get here, but I have finally managed to separate what I want to do vs. what ‘everybody else’ is doing. And my mental, physical and emotional health is thanking me.