College friendships form easily. It’s easy to develop strong bonds when you’re in the same town with the same people for nine months straight. You meet people in classes, you see them at basketball games, they’re the people you want by your side when your life is falling apart.
You become close to many different people, and then summer vacation hits. Some friends go home, some stay in Reno to work or finish summer school. Before you realize it, your friend group is spread out across the country on amazing adventures while trying to keep their special bonds intact.
FOMO—or the fear of missing out—is a concept society invented to explain why people feel melancholy when their friends or loved ones are doing an activity without them. A recent study from online direct reports that FOMO is ‘‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.” Whether it’s going to see a movie, or on the vacation of a lifetime, FOMO is used to describe the awkward feeling that comes with knowing you are left out.
We are at the point in our lives where everyone has their own schedule with their own responsibilities. It is difficult to plan an outing where every single friend in your group can attend, so naturally people get left out. FOMO induces decisions that aren’t always in your best interest.
Should you be going to the GSR driving range at 11 p.m. even though you have a midterm at 7:30 the next morning? Probably not.
Are you going to do it anyway so you don’t miss the laughs and the jokes? Probably.
Over the summer, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling left out, or constantly wondering what your friends are doing. Social media causes this because it is normalized to document every minute of your daily life. If you’re at home alone watching Netflix and you see a Snapchat story of two of your friends in Disneyland, it’s normal to feel like you’re missing out on something fun.
This cycle is vicious and can lead to jealousy and insecurity. Texas A&M University published an article called “FOMO: It’s your life you’re missing out on” that states that when you give in to FOMO, you are only hurting yourself.
“When you’re so tuned in to the ‘other,’ or the ‘better’ (in your mind), you lose your authentic sense of self. This constant fear of missing out means you are not participating as a real person in your own world,” said Darlene McLaughlin, M.D.
There will be more memories. There will be more inside jokes. If your friends are going to make you feel bad for missing out on activities, they probably aren’t really your friends. Being by yourself may be daunting, but it allows you the time to figure things out.
An article from “Psychology Online” revealed that solitude is more beneficial than people realize.
“By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you’re more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around,” said psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter.
Summer is the time to recuperate from all of the craziness a year at college contains. It’s the time to hang out with family and hometown friends, or to focus on your career without carrying 15 credits simultaneously. Summer is the season for self-care and focusing on what you truly want. Take the time to figure yourself out so you can be a better friend in the long term.
The more that we acknowledge FOMO, the worse it will get. If we move past it and move on, it will fade into oblivion and less people will feel like they are missing out.