What is ‘FoMO’?
The Fear of Missing Out, otherwise popularly referred to as FoMO, is a phenomenon that can be best described as a prevalent anxiety that those around us may be having more rewarding experiences than ourselves, as well as the desire to remain consistently connected with what others are doing. It refers to an uneasy and often all-consuming sense that we are lacking in some capacity, whether it be being invited to an event, traveling, being well-liked, or being successful academically or professionally. FoMO has been linked to low levels of happiness and satisfaction with one’s own experiences, but most importantly it relates to comparing oneself both consciously and subconsciously.
‘FoMO’ as a University Student
Since the Fear of Missing Out describes the perception that others are having more fun living better lives than you are, it deeply impacts one’s self-esteem, and this is especially true with university students who are emerging into their young adulthood. Research has shown that university students are more likely to use social media while walking through campus, before going to sleep, and during lectures. Social media has propelled the FoMO phenomenon as it establishes a situation in which one is comparing their normal life to the highlights of others’ lives. Therefore, one’s sense of what is to be expected of them becomes skewed. Social media creates a platform for competition between others and between ourselves in which we, too, wish to reach those heights. As a university student, those heights can manifest as achieving a certain level of popularity, being conventionally attractive, being romantically desirable, and obtaining wealth. Coupled with us living in the day and age of social media, not being invited to a party or being rejected from one’s dream job can be detrimental to one’s mental health particularly during this impressionable age.
Enjoying University Life for Yourself
FoMO can be overwhelming, but it can also teach us how to value our university experience in ways that are most meaningful to us. One of the most effective ways to combat FoMO is by interacting with others on a smaller scale such as through work, clubs, and roommates rather than in larger settings like lectures or parties. By interacting with others in a tighter knit environment, the involuntary desire to be widely acknowledged is minimized. Getting to know people and people getting to know you will feel more comfortable once you have established a set of familiar faces. Additionally, rather than focusing on what you lack, try recognizing what you have. Engaging in gratitude-enhancing habits like daily appreciation and telling others how much they mean to you can lift your spirits as well as those of those around you. The Fear of Missing Out capitalizes on the sense that you lack so much in life, therefore a tried and true remedy is to focus on the abundance you already have.