FO·MO (noun) - fear of missing out, anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
You know the feeling. You’re scrolling through your social media feed while curled up in your bed binge watching a TV show on a Friday night and you see it. Maybe it’s a 10 second snapchat of one of your classmates at a party or a tweet from a friend about how much fun they had while hanging out with another friend of theirs. The thought of wanting to be there crosses your mind, but you try to forget it as you continue to scroll. However, a few more episodes on Netflix later and that feeling begins to sink in deeper and deeper. You begin to question yourself: “Why wasn’t I invited?”, “Am I not fun to be around?” and the list goes on.
As a college student, especially a commuter, this feeling seems to come around on a frequent basis. Not living on campus seems to create a bit of a divide between resident students and commuter students. Sure, it’s nice to be able to get away from school and go home each day to your own room and a home cooked meal. But at the same time, you’re not really involved in the typical “college experience” that everyone brags about. You’re not spending your nights surrounded by your best friends or floor mates when you live at home. You don’t feel like going back to campus for late night events, knowing you’ll have to drive back home when everyone stumbles to their dorm rooms at midnight.
Living at home is a different experience all on its own. You have to take the other people in your home into consideration when you want to go out at night, especially during the week. I know for me, my mom won’t go to bed until she knows I’m home safe. I appreciate how much she cares, don’t get me wrong, but I also feel guilty enjoying my time out when I know she’s still up when she has to go to work the next morning. Even if everyone did go to sleep before I got home, my dog would begin barking the second I drove in and I would feel even worse about the whole house being up.
Aside from the whole living at home thing, another major factor that comes into play with FOMO is friends. I was never one of those people to really have a best friend. I never had a Miranda to my Lizzie, a Rachel to my Monica, a Shawn to my Cory. I’m naturally shy and would only keep various groups of friends that I was never really close enough with to call my best friends. Last week, I read two blog posts, If You’ve Ever Lost a Friend and From a Girl Who Doesn’t Have a Best Friend, by my good friend (and former DOY intern) Máire and these feelings all came to the surface as I realized I wasn’t alone.
But as another weekend starts to approach, the feelings of missing out are sure to flood my mind. By this point, you’d think I’d be used to it by now, but you’re never really comfortable with feeling like you’re not being included. And every time these feelings rush in, your mind creates new reasons why you weren’t invited. Sure I joke about wanting to be off campus by 5pm and being able to enjoy being away from everyone, but that doesn’t mean I’d be miserable at a party at 11pm. Put on some good music and I’m the complete opposite of the sleep-deprived, miserable girl you see in the campus center. Once you hit 21, more reasons are formed when drinking becomes legal. I don’t drink, but I won’t judge you if you do unless you become unbearable to handle. Sure, I’ll hear some stories about what embarrassing things you did over the weekend, but I like to have a good time and I won’t take it out on you for doing the same.
By this point, you might be thinking that I just surround myself with the wrong people, that’s why I don’t get invited out. I’ll let you know one thing: you’re wrong. I have some really great friends actually. I finally feel like I have those people I was looking for all of those years. The ones that I can completely be myself around and the ones who accept me for me. But they’re also very similar to me, which can be a great thing, but it can also be a downfall. Some of my friends love being home on a Friday night, binge watching a show on Netflix. Others work constantly and spend some of their free time with their boyfriends. I get it. But there are times where I wish they’d want to get involved on campus and go to sports games or parties the same way I want to.
There’s really no conclusion to this, no magic fix that will suddenly get rid of my fear of missing out. Sure, I could find a friend and go out somewhere on a Friday night. But that’s only one night and weekends come and go each week. There’s bound to be an event I’ll miss or a trip that I didn’t go on. Something I didn’t get invited to for various reasons. But there’s also those times where I am invited and people want to be around me, awkward dancing and all. If you’ve made it this far and find yourself in my shoes every once in a while, I want you to know that we’re in this together and we’re probably really not missing much.