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Mental Health

Fear of Missing Out (FoMo) & First Year

There’s so much to look forward to your first year of university. You are going to experience a plethora of new experiences, meet more people than you can remember, and make some incredibly memorable moments. The excitement that comes with looking forward to such events can cause you to develop fear of missing out, coined as FoMo. A good indicator that you have FoMo is when you find yourself always concerned with what people are doing elsewhere and what you may be potentially missing out on . It may not come off as serious but it has been associated with anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and depression. If that’s not enough, here are some more reasons why you should and how you can curb your FoMo.

Unsplash/ Michael Discenza

Having FoMo during a global pandemic is understandable. Regardless of whether you’re attending school from the comfort of your home or you are back on campus, we have all been isolating in some capacity. It’s understandable that you yearn for the social life you once had, however, that is not the reality for anyone at the moment. You may see people outside, enjoying life as if the pandemic doesn’t exist but if you care about your health and the health of others, you will be hesitant to put yourself in that position. This is a huge reason to kick your FoMo, as it could be a case of life and death or health and sickness for you and those around you.

Besides that, sometimes it’s easy to forget why you are at school with all the extra curriculars, events, and people around you. It can put your studies and important relationships on the back burner for the sake of not missing out on what may be a good time. The bigger picture is that although you may get gratification from taking part in these outings, there are other priorities that you should be putting your time and energy into. Ideally, these are priorities that will better you as a person and will enrich your life. It may be worthwhile to consider whether a night out is worth putting these commitments at risk.


Unsplash

Fear of missing out is a fear of not being continually connected or engaged. The lack of this can leave feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and loneliness. These feelings have a tendency to then drive people to want to increase their engagement.  A study done on Computers in Human Behaviour, titled Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out, found that FoMo is associated with lower need satisfaction, mood and life satisfaction. In terms of need satisfaction this is broken down into autonomy, relatedness and competence. Autonomy concerns feeling of freedom over ones’ self. Competence is referring to feelings of capability and effectiveness. Relatedness deals with how close and intimate we feel in our relationships with others. These three are what make up “need satisfaction” and low feelings regarding them is what contributes to FoMo. What may seem like harmless fun could actually be overshadowing what could be a bigger issue concerning your mental health.

How then can we overcome this fear? Social media plays a big part in it. From that same study, they found that FoMo is linked to higher levels of behavioural engagement with social media. It’s easy to become addicted to logging on to see what everyone else is doing and it can leave feelings of longing. Re-evaluate your social media habits and reflect on the feelings that you’re left with when you log out. If you see a negative correlation, reduce your dependency and time spent on it. As well, practice discernment when it comes to choosing your priorities and where to spend your time. With some self-control, it is possible to change your habits and instead invest more into what enriches your life experience. Acceptance is the final phase and realizing that the “grass is greener” façade that people have you believing, will never be as rewarding as you think as you’ll always be chasing the next best thing. Instead, live your life mindfully, enjoying what’s in front of you.

With all that being said, freshman year will be a very confusing time and there will be so many desires and flashing lights, but use your judgement when it comes to choosing what you will engage in. There is a pandemic going on, for one, which I suggest you be especially mindful of. As well, choosing your mental health before the pursuit of futile desires is something to be conscious of. That is not saying you should not enjoy, because the fact remains that you will not get this time back. However, with this in mind, isn’t that more reason to choose what you do with your time wisely? Just a word from someone who has been there and done that, knows better and wants the same for you.

Ampiire Bikangaga is a second-year undergraduate law student at the University of Leicester. She is originally from Toronto, Canada but has made a home in the midlands, at her university. Ampiire discovered her love for research and journalism at law school where she particularly developed an interest in politics, human rights, and culture. She loves to examine the human condition and bring awareness to world events. She loves reading, writing, and engaging with HerCampus.
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