Farkas: Overcoming FOMO


Alana Farkas, Columnist

It’s a typical human feeling: the anxiety we feel when we believe our friends are having fun without us, that everyone we know is doing something while we are not. It’s a common fear among most people that I have encountered, but only recently have I heard a name for it — FOMO, the fear of missing out.

I have certainly felt this overwhelming fear, especially since I arrived at Northwestern in the fall.

Freshman year began with a 10-day Wildcat Welcome program, during which freshmen were required to attend orientation events with their peer adviser groups. In reality, however, Wildcat Welcome was more of a huge period of free time with minimal structure.

Freshmen were left on their own to discover the world of NU. Every minute seemed to be valuable time to get out of the dorm and meet as many people as possible. It was a social race to make friends. Who would want to be left behind?

This anxiety of feeling socially left behind was also significantly pronounced through social media. People constantly post photos of happy faces and groups of friends, and they always seem to be attending the best parties and hanging out with more people than you are.

In terms of FOMO, Fall Quarter of freshman year was rough, but I had three weeks of Winter Break to reflect on what I truly wanted from my college experience.

When I arrived back to NU for the start of Winter Quarter, I tried to have a different outlook. My goal was to focus more on building strong, meaningful relationships with a few people, rather than having surface-level relationships with many people. I knew that if I felt secure in the relationships I built, the FOMO would fade. This was my first step towards fighting FOMO.

This was difficult initially, but as I continued to practice fighting FOMO, the unrealistic fears began to fade. I took certain steps to overcoming FOMO, which I believe can help anyone suffering from the fear of missing out.

Ingrain into your head “The 10-Day Rule,” a strategy my roommate taught me. In a situation in which you are feeling FOMO, ask yourself, “Will this truly matter in 10 days?” The answer is usually no. Ten days from now, nobody will remember what happened at that fraternity party or who was there and who wasn’t. Your life will most likely not be any different 10 days from now because you missed out on an event.

Remember social media only shows people at their best, which is an inaccurate depiction of real life. Social media domains like Facebook and Snapchat paint an unrealistic picture of people in their happiest moments of life. College life is not just parties and socializing with friends. People are usually spending most of their time in class and studying.

Join groups where you can have fun with people without fearing you are missing out. Many of my friends are now the people I met through student organizations such as clubs, sports, Greek life and even classes. You will not have to fear missing out if you do what you enjoy with people who share similar interests.

Lastly, true friends will love you whether or not you attend every social event. Do what is best for you, not what you think you should do because others are. Your friends will respect and even admire your authenticity.

Alana Farkas is a Weinberg freshman. She can be contacted [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].
The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.