FOMO — the fear of missing out. This acronym has popped up within recent years and accurately describes the feeling a lot of college students experience when skipping a social event. We are all guilty of going to something solely for the purpose of not feeling excluded. Why do we do things for FOMO? If we don’t want to go to something, why do we?
No One Wants to Miss Out
It’s human nature. No one wants to feel like they have missed something important. You don’t want to be out of the loop when your friends are talking about something that happened at a gathering you missed. Is this really important? Should you go to something you aren’t interested in just to feel included? Or is your time better spent doing what you desire?
Re-Thinking the Importance of FOMO
I am responsible for only going to events so I don’t feel left out. These events made me miserable. Although my friends and I have a lot in common, we are not always entertained by the same things. It has taken me a long time to realize that there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with skipping a social event to do what you want.
Spending Your Time Wisely
You are the most important person in your life. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, and three hundred and sixty five days in a year. This may seem like a lot of time. Now subtract all of the time you spend on school, work, extracurricular activities, etc. Not much time left, is there? It is okay to be selfish with your time.
Going to parties that you do not enjoy is only a waste of your time. Sure, you might be able to relate to some inside jokes your friends made that night. Is that worth it? If you want to spend that time reading, going to a different party, or watching a movie instead, why not do that?
Changing Your Mindset
Getting out of the FOMO mindset is hard. A talk with one of my roommates made me seriously think about this subject and how to get out of the FOMO cycle. We recognized that we feel a pressure from our friends to hang out with them when we may not want to. This doesn’t mean that we don’t like them or don’t want to ever spend time with them. It simply means that we can have other priorities. We’re college students with long weeks filled with schoolwork. Sometimes it is more relaxing to spend a night in instead of going to a game night.
I used to wonder why some of my friends opted to stay in to watch Netflix when there was something so fun going on. After talking to my roommate and taking time to reflect, I realized that my friends were practicing self-care. It is healthy to do things for yourself. So, how can you get out of the FOMO mindset and focus on your own priorities?
Recognize Your Priorities
How do you enjoy spending your time? Split your list of activities into social activities and individual activities. An example of a social activity might be playing board games with your friends (a popular activity in my friend group) while an example of an individual activity might be reading. Recognize why you enjoy these activities. Do you enjoy them because your friends do or because you do? If there is an activity you only attend because your friends like it, cross it off your list.
Decide how much time you want to spend on social activities and how much time you want to spend on individual activities. There’s nothing wrong with spending a lot of time participating in social activities as long as you are doing it for yourself.
Putting These Ideas into Practice: Say No
The next time someone asks you to come to something you aren’t interested in (but you would normally say yes because of FOMO), say no. This may seem stressful at first, trust me, I know. This semester I have been focusing on turning down opportunities that I am not personally interested in. At first, you will be concerned about all of the things you are missing. Then, you will spend your time doing what you enjoy. For me, that is blogging, photography, and traveling.
Do you know what I discovered? I am so much happier. By turning down opportunities that disinterest me, I’ve been able to:
- Accept an Executive Position for an organization that I am passionate about
- Dedicate more time towards blogging
- Start reading for fun again
- Explore the surrounding area of my college campus and take photographs
- Focus on my schoolwork and improve my grades
How to Avoid Feeling Left Out
So, you put your foot down and said no. How do you avoid FOMO?
- Put your phone down and avoid social media. You don’t need to check Snapchat 24/7.
- Accept that it is physically impossible to attend every event. This would be exhausting. I’ve tried to do it, it doesn’t work.
- Focus on the positive things you did with your time instead.
- If your friends bring up an inside joke, ask for an explanation. You can still feel included even if you weren’t there originally.
Does This Mean That I Am Isolating Myself from My Friends?
No. I still attend plenty of social events. The difference between my attendance of social events now is that I only go to one that I enjoy. This doesn’t make you selfish, this shows that you efficiently prioritize your time. There are so many opportunities in life and it is impossible to attend to all of them. You have to pick and choose. By knocking FOMO out of the equation, you are making smarter decisions about how to spend your time.
This does not mean to stop going to social gatherings. This means to focus on what makes you happy! Life is short. Fill it with meaningful experiences.