Some lessons you learn right away: never walk all the way to the bathroom without your towel, 8 am feels even earlier than it sounds, and be strategic about the best off-peak time to visit the dining hall.
Others are more challenging: balancing homework for 3 honors classes, speaking up in a lecture hall of 200, or managing stress in a brand new environment.
One thing that is especially difficult to learn is how to deal with FOMO: the fear of missing out. Sure, it’s admittedly a cheesy cliché, but I would argue that it is a universally experienced phenomenon. Everyone feels that twinge from time to time while living in a place constantly surrounded by our peers. Whether it’s not being able to meet friends for lunch because of homework, or hearing stories about last Friday night, we just want to be a part of everything all at once.
As college freshmen, it seems the world has suddenly become our metaphorical oyster. There is so much to see and do and learn and feel. There’s a new experience around every corner; it’s actually pretty amazing. However, sometimes this can also be intimidating— how can you take advantage of every opportunity without spreading yourself too thin? No one said it would be easy. (And it’s okay if it’s not. Seriously.)
Two weeks after move-in day here at UD, my parents moved from my (chilly, beautiful) home state of New York to (humid, touristy) Florida. Now, over breaks, going “home” will mean traveling to a brand new place, while my friends are back in NY. This has lent itself to plenty of FOMO, but I’ve learned a few tricks to help make it easier to manage.
How to deal with FOMO at college:
1) Change your media mindset. With apps like Snapchat and Instagram barraging us with minute-to-minute updates, it is getting harder to ignore FOMO and the resulting jealousy. Instead of looking at social media as something that you have to constantly check up on and be a part of, think of it as a treat. Try rewarding yourself with a scroll through Instagram after completing an assignment.
2) Think about values. Why are you saying “yes” to an event? Is it because you want to be there, or because you feel like you have to be there? Sometimes it feels like every sporting event, party, and extracurricular is mandatory, but everyone has different comfort levels. For some, that means going out every weekend, and for others it means staying in. You have to decide what makes you happiest, and be sure that you are doing things for the right reason.
3) Don’t overwhelm yourself. Check syllabi in advance so you’re never suddenly surprised by a bunch of pending assignments and then schedule exactly how much time you will need to devote to work. Take time for yourself, too. In the wise, wise words of Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford: “treat yo self!” Even if it’s not in the form of “fine leather goods” or “mimosas,” find something you can do to relax and recharge. This way, you can learn that just because you didn’t go to that party doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun.
4) Keep your door open. If you are able to work with a little background noise, try keeping your door open while you’re inside doing homework. This is something I have been doing a lot this month, and I have found it to be really effective. You get the best of both worlds: you can be a part of what is going on outside, while still getting some work done.
5) Look at what you have, here and now. Try not to worry about what is going on at home. Obsessively checking in with underclassmen friends about football scores and the latest gossip may be comforting now, but in the long run, remember not to ignore all of the exciting things happening right under your nose, beyond the screen.
All in all, the best way to deal with FOMO? Just know that everyone else is going through it too! Enjoy the process— you don’t have to do everything all at once.