I have three exams next week. So, despite what I’d rather be doing, like going to the club hockey game or watching a movie with my friends, most of my weekend will be spent studying. I’m stressed about the exams, but they aren’t the only thing I’m worried about. Like most people, I’m worried about missing out on all the fun activities my friends will be doing.

I have major FOMO — fear of missing out. Most of the time, it’s in relation to social events. Someone may have FOMO if they want to hang out with their friends but can’t, whether it’s due to other responsibilities or disapproving parents — it’s basically feeling bad because you’d rather be having fun. But an underlying part of FOMO is feeling like your friends won’t miss you while you’re not there. 

Unfortunately, FOMO is fairly common, especially in college when people are going out a lot more. Social media makes it worse. With just the tap of a finger, it’s easy to see people doing fun things — even though it may be fake — while you’re doing something boring. Don’t get me wrong — I also do fun things, but I still get caught up in FOMO. 

The worst part is, I have FOMO for things I don’t even want to do. Sometimes, when I don’t feel like going out to a party, I still get FOMO when I think about the fact that my friends are there. When you’re feeling like you’re missing out, it can be hard to consider whether you even wanted to go out anyway. It can make you do things you don’t want to do — I’ve occasionally hung out with my friends when I should’ve done homework instead, simply because I was worried about missing out on something. No one wants to be left out of an inside joke or see all the pictures from when they weren’t there. But it’s important to take a step back and think about it. Would you have suggested that activity? Do you really want to go, or do you want to go because your friends are going? Do you have something else you’d rather be doing?

While FOMO can be detrimental to your college experience, it can also have some positive effects. I know a lot of people who have joined clubs because their friends were in them or started a new hobby to keep up with their social circles. A lot of these clubs and hobbies have brought joy to people, myself included. In fact, I’m not sure if I would’ve joined a sorority if it weren’t for my friends dragging me to the formal recruitment orientation. Joining Gamma Phi Beta has allowed me to meet some of my best friends and make amazing memories. So in that regard, I owe some of my college experience so far to FOMO.

That being said, it’s best to minimize FOMO as much as possible. The best thing to do is recognize your feelings and check in with yourself. If there’s a good reason why you’re not doing a specific activity, try not to stress too much about missing out. Do what’s best for you, even if that means uninviting yourself from a plan. Your friends are your friends for a reason — they won’t forget about you.

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