Five tips on how to deal with FOMO
It happens to the best of us
You probably imagined your first year of uni to involve drinking, going to lectures severely hungover, navigating a crowded campus and overall a lot of stress. Instead, your standard day in isolation probably looks like this: eat, sleep, panic about the future, repeat. This is far from the booze filled party life you imagined your first year to be like and chances are, you’re feeling like you’re missing out. Cheers, 2020.
FOMO, or “The Fear of Missing Out,” is a real phenomenon and can affect just about anyone. It refers to the worried feeling that you are missing out on exciting events that others are experiencing and is generally worsened by what you see on social media. Ironically, it can prevent you from fully enjoying the experiences you are actually having in anticipation of ones you could be. For those of us with social anxiety, it is a way of life. But with the current circumstances, curfews and local lockdowns, everyone has probably felt a sense of FOMO at one point or another.
Everyone wants to make the most of their university experience; from the Fresher excitement of meeting new people, to exploring all the pubs and clubs the Toon has to offer to the newfound adult freedom, it is no secret that this year will be different and quite strange overall. The struggle is real but there are ways to minimise the effect of feeling like you’re missing out, and the following points are everything you need to know to make it just a tad easier.
Widen your perspective
It’s easier said than done, but try to refocus onto the wider scheme of things. It’s a global pandemic, and everyone’s lives have (without a doubt) been taken over by it. Despite being fun, missing out on the nights that make you want to spontaneously combust the morning after, or realising you’re already deep in your overdraft by Wednesday are things you can and will experience later. Hints of FOMO will creep up, but knowing everyone is being held back by the same restrictions means they probably share your social withdrawal symptoms and are too preoccupied adjusting to a new lifestyle themselves. Seriously, no one is having as much fun as they say they are.
Find other ways to enjoy yourself
The spread of the virus forced us away from the simple joys of life like getting some coffee or meeting up with friends (in groups larger than 6) without thinking twice about it. Finding other ways to stay entertained is crucial to avoid falling down the ‘what if’ rabbit hole, even when your Snapchat memories very rudely remind you of better times.
Whether its baking banana bread or accidentally spending six straight hours on TikTok- if you’re occupied, you’re less likely to think of what else you could be doing. More lowkey activities like enjoying the occasional sunny day, or a socially distanced outing with a friend can give you the serotonin boost you need. Isolation will make you sick of your go-to distractions and newer, more creative ways to entertain yourself will keep you busy (see some students make their own ‘Jespoly’ drinking game). If it makes you happy, it’s working!
The overused cliché is true. You really are all you need. Rather than harping on what you could be doing, make the most of what you have and what you can do with it. Try the hobby you’ve never had the time to try, dye your hair E-girl style, or learn a new language. It’s all about you, and given you’re practically trapped, there’s no reason not to do what you want. There is no fixed way to go about this confusing time, and as 2020 has made very clear- nobody knows what they’re doing. There is no rulebook and constantly comparing yourself to what more you could be doing is detrimental. Its easier to identify what triggers your FOMO and filter it out when you’re focused on your own goals and abilities. The fear will likely lessen when you realise you have what you need and so do others.
Misery loves company
The struggles of being a university student are hard on their own and FOMO only intensifies them. You cannot do everything at once and neither can your friends, and sometimes it’s easier to give in and share in your defeat. Hop on a zoom call, down some drinks and reminisce or plan for some better times ahead. Online games and events, although not a substitute for the real thing, can be a great way to reconnect with friends. It’s cheaper, easier, and you can click away at any point – and you can be in pyjamas (what more could you want). Knowing you aren’t alone in struggling with feeling left out will hopefully make the experience a bit better and make you appreciate the next time you go out even more.
Prioritise staying safe and healthy
It’s easy to forget the actual severity of the pandemic amidst our trivial problems, but given the current circumstances, it is important to be mindful about whether these experiences you crave are even worthwhile. Staying safe and finding ways to make this unique experience slightly less miserable for yourself is key to a FOMO free isolation.
Getting lost in the thrill of first year madness is guaranteed, and feelings of FOMO will occasionally take over. Striking a balance is key, and although a rocky road, you’ll soon wonder why you were so bothered about “missing out” in the first place. Trust me, we’ve all been there.