New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Fear You’re Missing Out? So Does Everyone Else.

Tips for being grateful and content with where you are right now.
Alexandra Chan
Students struggle with FOMO, or fear of missing out, especially with the prevalence of social media documenting every part of people’s lives. Culture discusses tips to stay grounded and mindful of staying content with self-care and kindness. (Staff Illustration by Alexandra Chan)

FOMO — the Fear of Missing Out — is defined as a type of anxiousness that arises from feeling excluded or missing out on any event, decision or even person. Simply put, FOMO forces us to reconcile with regret and longing. Though prevalent throughout history, FOMO’s relevance has increased with the rise of social media — the ease with which one can view interesting events they’re missing out on is more accessible than ever. One thing many of us wonder is: what exactly triggers FOMO? Stern first-year Kayla Moore, in an interview over text, discussed when her FOMO is most prominent.

“A specific trigger of mine is if I had been looking forward to that certain event for a long time and then something comes up or something happens so I suddenly can’t go. That makes me feel worse because I was so excited for it.”

For example, chilling in your room on the weekend and de-stressing from the week may be interrupted by the thought that you’re not doing enough. Whether you were invited out by friends and rejected the offer, or are viewing the kickback you weren’t invited to through someone’s private story, FOMO is as prominent as ever. But FOMO is not singularly defined by feeling left out — Stern sophomore Esteban Medina shares that while planning a vacation with his girlfriend, his FOMO increases in response to stress about being in the wrong place:

“The emphasis on making the best choice is what is leading to FOMO,” Medina said. “I experience it most in moments like those, when it’s an unfamiliar situation and suddenly I have to make an important decision. FOMO for me personally is just worrying that I’ll miss out on the best experience or accidentally choose a bad one.”

Drawing from both of these definitions of FOMO, there seems to be a consensus that it arises when students feel overwhelmed. So what do you do when you feel like you’re not doing enough or too much of the wrong things? Going to a school like NYU makes it intimidating to see the various internships, bookings and accomplishments of others around us. Ron Hall, first-year CAS President, weighs in on this matter with much experience. Hall’s schedule is normally packed with track and student government events that may hinder him from making time to balance social events. In Hall’s experience, he combats FOMO by practicing self-care.

“I try to stay proactive in terms of preventing myself from getting overwhelmed — setting work aside for a few hours to eat or relax.”

Hall’s methods are a good means to go by, because often, self-care is plastered with the image of face masks or running a rose-petal bath. Sometimes, self-care is choosing to watch your favorite Netflix show instead of feeling forced to go out, i.e., simple acts of kindness towards yourself. But eventually, grappling with FOMO means coming to terms with the fact that everyone has experienced or continues to experience it. In my own battle with anxiety-induced FOMO, I have to make myself realize that these instances of feeling unincluded are trivial.

Email Nya Etienne at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Alexandra Chan
Alexandra Chan, Editor-at-Large
Alexandra Chan is a junior studying history, politics and East Asian studies. She has done her time in the basement dungeon state of mind and can't really seem to let go. Follow her @noelle.png on Instagram for inconsistent posting but aesthetically pleasing rows. She doesn't know what Twitter is.

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