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Picture this: you’re in your dorm room, scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, and see all of the cute photos your friends and peers are taking. Whether it’s out in the city or in the Mugar library, you feel a sense of sadness wash over you, asking yourself: “Why am I not going out, too?” It makes you question your friendships, think you’re doing something wrong, and, overall, it makes you feel lonely.

This general feeling is called FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” It is the perception that others are living better lives than you are, which fosters a sense of envy and isolation. It’s not a fun thing to go through, trust me. In my experience, it has made me unmotivated to do anything, and reaching out to friends feels like I’m bothering them. It also has made me question if I’m making the most out of my “college experience.” 

It feels like there should be some standard, or guidelines to follow, to say you had the optimal college experience, like partying every weekend and hanging out with friends, or building your future life in a matter of four years. These social expectations cannot be enforced universally. Many students have introverted personalities and don’t enjoy the party scene, and others don’t exactly know what they want to do outside of college. What we deem as the “college experience” is unrealistic and harmful to college students.

Social media plays a huge role in FOMO and the fostering of the college experience. While it is a great means of staying connected with friends and family, some of whom may live hours away from you, it’s also quite damaging to one’s self-esteem and mental health. Social media has come to the point where it is so integral to our lives that it is a necessity to have. It can turn into a vicious cycle of wanting to get rid of your social media accounts to preserve your mental wellbeing but fearing you won’t be in the loop anymore. 

So, with social media staying in your life, there are still some ways to deal with FOMO. First, it can be helpful to focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t. Say you see someone’s story in the city with a bunch of friends, some of which you know, but you had a great time the other day with a couple of friends watching a movie. Similarly, setting a time limit on your phone could help you take a break from social media and help you focus on other things, like writing or taking walks outside. Lastly, reach out to your friends and family and talk to them, in person or over the phone, and tell them how grateful you are to have them.

It can be hard to not feel upset when you see others having the times of their lives, but there is one thing to keep in mind: you are doing enough. There is no blueprint of how to navigate your college experience, and however you want to do it is enough.

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Class of 2025 journalism student at Boston University. Loves listening to music and exploring the city, and pet every dog that goes by.
Amille is a senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English. Her passions include travel, cooking, and creative writing; when she isn't testing new recipes and working on her first novel, she's spending time with pets and making memories with family.
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