Group of friends

Peer Pressure vs. FOMO: How You Can Come Out on Top

Growing up, I was definitely a homebody. Part of that came from being raised with a pair of strict parents, but I also just strongly identified with the introverted factors of my personality. Though my extroverted self is always ready to come out and play, it's very easy for me to slip under the veil of introversion and thrive in solitude. Going into college, I knew this would suit me well — I would be able to have fun when I wanted, but I could also seclude and study when needed. However, my extroverted self and I began to run into issues when I saw how people liked to have fun at a big university like ours.

Girls having fun at party Anne Lovelock

It was to be expected — the representation of college in the media is always supplemented with a large party spirit as part of the nightlife. While such gatherings look fun to me in theory, I was always skeptical of whether or not I would actually enjoy attending one. Of course, I wasn’t going to knock it before I tried it, so when I was invited to go out one night during the fall of my freshman year, I went. I got gussied up, let my friends pick out an ensemble that they deemed acceptable, piled into the car at an hour that felt way too late to be arriving somewhere new, and waited in line with my ID and a 10 dollar bill in hand. But even before I left, I knew I was ready to head home. I love to spend time with my friends, but this just was not the environment I wanted to do it in.

woman sitting alone looking out window Photo by Anthony Tran from Unsplash

Thus began a repeated cycle of guilt. My friends would make plans and invite me to go out with them, I would decline but they would beg me to go, and I'd feel awful repeatedly saying no. They would jokingly tell me I was boring or that I just needed to get out there, but I took it to heart. It honestly put me down to think about them out on the town without me, even though I knew in my heart of hearts that if I had gone, I would more than likely be miserable — insecure, cramped and just wishing I was in a more comfortable, familiar environment.

But soon, I realized that the definition of fun is not universal — yours is not everyone’s, and no one can make you feel bad for the difference. College is one of the most defining times of our lives, and it gives us more independence than our young brains have had since we were born. You shouldn’t waste time participating in activities that you have a gut feeling you won’t enjoy. I don’t like to go out with my friends, but I love to have them over and host more intimate parties. Life is about balance! No one should have to compromise their comfort in order for others to have their wishes fulfilled.