Ever since I was younger, I have always considered myself more reserved and introverted compared to the people around me. I attribute this mostly to the button-up, no-room-for-mistakes persona I carried throughout most of my life, particularly in high school. Of course, I have tried the social butterfly thing as I have gotten to college – going to parties, joining multiple clubs, and talking to a variety of different people but all of my efforts to be this new, outgoing version of myself continuously fall short. While trying all of these new things have been fun, I have always felt like something didn’t fit for me – that I much rather be in my dorm on my iPad then at whatever party was going on that weekend.
And yet, a part of me was still worried that I would be missing out on my “college experience” if I ended up becoming a shut-in in my dorm or hanging out with a boy instead of going out with my best friends. I always ended up feeling some strange sense of guilt or discontent regardless of whatever I chose. The fear of missing out, most commonly known as FOMO, is a common experience amongst college students alike that causes an increase sense of worry or anxiety that one is being left out or not included in the same activities and social settings as their peers.
For me, coming to college with somewhat unrealistic expectations of what college life looks like definitely exasperated my FOMO. I thought that I would be some completely re-invented version of myself. However, those same feelings of wanting to be in my own circle away from the world never completely dissipated. In the first few weeks of school I found myself either always hanging out with someone or on the go at some new event. Now that the semester is starting to wind down and a lot of my friends and myself have other priorities, I find myself lost on what to do with all of this extra time to myself, in addition to the time I already spend not going out.
It’s easy to end up feeling lonely in college, especially seeing other people’s friendships and relationships, but being alone doesn’t have to equate to being lonely. Instead of thinking about it that way, I consider my alone time as time for me to invest in myself and do things that make me happy. In life, not a lot of people are awarded the luxury to have that time just to pour into themselves (especially when college life gets extra stressful) so I value all of the time I get to do so.
I often have to remind myself that it’s okay to not want to go out, it’s okay to take extra time to finish that assignment before meeting up with friends, and it’s okay to just sit in your dorm doing absolutely nothing. This is a work in progress for me, but I find that asking myself “What is it that you want to do?” helps me a lot.
So, for anyone experiencing similar feelings that is also new to their college journey like me, or just needs similar motivation, consider taking that time that you feel disconnected from your peers and turning it into something productive for yourself.