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After Two Years At UCLA, I’m Finally Immune To FOMO

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Picture this: It’s your first day of classes, you have an empty schedule (besides classes) and you can’t wait to explore all the thrilling events on the UCLA campus. Fast forward not even two days later and you have 10 different club meetings that you want to go to, five parties happening down the block, three exclusive events scheduled on the same day and somehow, just somehow, all your friends want to hang out only within the same three-hour block on Friday. What do you do? If you’re anything like the past-me, you become an overwhelmed ball of anxiety (and hope somehow things get canceled or you unlock the ability to clone yourself). There seems to be no way out without losing — you miss out on a star-studded premiere, a social get-together, a career workshop or something else in or around campus. 

Well, welcome to UCLA, the hotbed of FOMO (a.k.a. the Fear of Missing Out).

During my freshman year, I constantly found myself pining for a different event while at an event, resulting in dissatisfaction no matter where I was. There was a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I was missing out on something life-changing and this prevented me from ever fully being present. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I wasn’t alone. Most people at UCLA experience FOMO, and we don’t acknowledge it enough. So, I wanted to talk about my experience developing immunity to FOMO for my first Her Campus article because it significantly informs almost every day of my life. 

After repeatedly overbooking myself for months, I decided to pause. What if… I didn’t go to anything at all? What if I chose to miss out on everything? Where would that put me? And so, my sophomore year was the complete opposite, with me skipping out on everything. Did I miss incredible opportunities? Probably. I was still dissatisfied and anxious because I was face to face with the worst of FOMO. However, over time, dwelling in the discomfort in solitude and the change of pace helped me explore when I confronted FOMO the most and why. By overwhelming you with choices, the campus culture at UCLA forces you to stray from the crowd — the only way to stay sane is to prioritize what matters to you. Towards the end of sophomore year, I chose to be very intentional with my time commitments. Events only made it to my calendar if I wanted to attend them. If there were conflicts, I would take a moment to list why each event mattered to me before prioritizing the ones that I valued more.

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Come junior year, I feel invincible. Missing out on a premiere in Westwood to get ice cream with my friends? No FOMO. By actively choosing how I spend my time after reflecting on my priorities, I know that the conversations I would have with my friends over much-needed ice cream would be worth more than anything else to me. I probably don’t need to justify every choice. Still, little reflections like this allow me the room to navigate FOMO when it starts creeping in, because they combine to form a solid understanding of the self. By reframing my perspective from existing in a constant lack of the unknown to one constantly enriched by the known, I found delight in the new experiences I chose to venture out into without grieving the ones I missed.

Ultimately, FOMO is unavoidable at UCLA, so if it feels like another day of Everything Everywhere All at Once, it is okay to breathe. It’s taken me two years of switching between the extremes of social life to figure out a balance. Allowing yourself the chance to attend everything and get burnt out or missing out on everything and getting crushed by FOMO, is a step toward figuring out what level of social commitment is healthy for you. Reflecting on the experiences you want to prioritize enables you to find the joy in adding a new experience or two in the foreground rather than focusing on the loss of the countless less-meaningful experiences in the background. And with that brief note, I wish you good luck on your journey with FOMO.

Remember to pause — UCLA is SO much more fun when you’re well-rested and present in the moment!

Swathya is a third-year Astrophysics major at UCLA, from New Delhi, India. A poet at her core, she spends a lot of time picking apart the intricacies of modern life to reconstruct the bigger picture as a way to find her place within the enigmatic universe. When she is not surrounded by a galaxy of words—academic and creative—she loves surrounding herself with people she can go on little adventures with to find the best caffeine and sugary treats in town.