The Fear of Missing Out.
People in the media have been buzzing with this word for a few years now, especially in critiques of millennials and their dependence on social media that supposedly leads to FOMO.
And the media isn’t wrong: constantly seeing online what your friends and acquaintances are doing in real life can lead to jealously, anxiety, and harsh self-critique.
College is a highly social environment, which means that you’re constantly and inescapably aware of what your peers are doing. Add in social media, and it’s a recipe for a nagging feeling of “why am I not part of what those people are doing?” is hard to avoid.
It’s impossible to live in a vacuum of ignorance, so the Fear of Missing Out can bite. Sometimes you can’t help but compare your experiences to others’. If you choose to stay in on a weekend or to spend time with different friends, you can feel like you made the wrong decision and missed out on something in the process.
But FOMO isn’t all bad. It can also be harnessed as motivation to take risks and a counter for social anxiety.
Even though I’m outgoing, I can sometimes feel a bit anxious before entering unfamiliar social situations, like networking events or group gatherings with new people. I’m usually fine once I’m there but getting there is the hard part for me.
So I use FOMO to my advantage. I tell myself that I’d be missing out on great opportunities to meet new and interesting people at the event. You’ll never know if you don’t go, I remind myself, and soon I find my hesitation slipping away because I simply don’t want to miss out on something that could be amazing.
And even when those events aren’t amazing, I take away what I can. It’s a waste of time if you don’t learn something from it, so I glean as much value as possible from experiences that didn’t turn out as well as I convinced myself they would.
FOMO can be pernicious if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. But I challenge you to turn FOMO on its head and use it to your advantage as motivation. Compare your current self to nobody but your potential future self, and risk putting yourself out there. That’s how to conquer FOMO.
This post is part of my April A to Z Challenge. For more All Things College posts, click here.