It’s Friday night. Your friends are preparing to go Downtown. Rap music and the smell of alcohol permeate the air.
“Come out with us, it’s going to be so fun,” they say.
You would go if it weren’t for the massive pile of work due Monday. There’s no way you’ll finish if you go. But for some reason, you’re torn. What if your friends have the best night of their lives? What if they take cute pictures without you? What if they forget about you?
You might be suffering from a strong case of FOMO — the fear of missing out.
“You feel like you’re going to miss out on what your friends are doing and you’re going to be left in the dark about like, ‘This funny thing happened last night and I wasn’t there to experience it,’” said Elisabeth Stein, a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience.
Jessica Cohen, mental health promotion coordinator for Binghamton University’s Health Promotion and Prevention Services, said FOMO is prominent on college campuses because students often think they have to do it all.
“I think that all college students — and [BU] students are no exception — have this pressure on them to do everything,” Cohen said. “So there’s pressure to get perfect grades, be in every club, have a perfect résumé, but also be really involved in their social circles.”
If you suffer from FOMO, here are some tips to ease the pain the next time you miss a fun night out.
Stay off social media when your friends go out.
Although it may be tough, staying away from your social media feeds will remove a huge distraction and help you focus. Who needs to see five minutes of blurry Snapchat videos anyways? Leanne Petrone, a senior majoring in biology, said this might even make you forget that you’re missing out.
“After I deleted social media I really haven’t felt FOMO since, because I don’t see when people are out, you know?” Petrone said.
Prioritize school over your social life.
Academics are the main reason you’re in college, so take your tests and homework seriously. Celebrate with friends after you ace your exams — it’ll feel even better.
“You have to prioritize what matters more; there’s always going to be another night of going out, but with tests, once it’s done, it’s done,” Stein said.
Find a loyal group of friends.
A big part of FOMO is feeling like your friends are having fun without you — or even excluding you. But you shouldn’t have to worry if you have true friends. They might even want to stay in and study too.
“Knowing that my friends aren’t going anywhere if I don’t go out that one night helps to reassure me about my decision,” Stein said. “And honestly, if they don’t want to be friends with you for not going out one night, then they’re probably not good friends to have.”
Get involved on campus.
Feeling lonely? Volunteer, join a club or participate in student government. These are great ways to build relationships outside of nightlife — and they don’t look bad on a résumé either. Even if you can’t go out, you’ll still be able to see friends during events or meetings.
“Things that drive connectedness can really help alleviate feelings of anxiety or isolation, and help people build those social support networks that they might be lacking,” Cohen said.
It can be difficult, but don’t let FOMO consume your thoughts. Stay in the moment. Have confidence in your decision to stay home. Only you can make yourself feel jealous or guilty about missing an “unforgettable” night.
“It’s not somebody else telling us that we should be doing more, or that all of our friends are hanging out without us,” Cohen said. “It’s more of this wondering of what you could be missing, and that’s really self-inflicted. Those thoughts are really coming from ourselves, and we have the power to change them.”