Column: The fear of missing out


For as long as I can remember, I have gone out of my way to make sure I could attend any and every event. If any of my friends were going to be somewhere, I also wanted to be there.

I craved to always be doing something, even if that meant just going to the grocery store or on a walk.

It’s OK to stay home sometimes — a simple fact, but not necessarily something that I practiced in my own life. 

Accepting that it is OK to sometimes have nothing to do, or saying no to a friend, is something that I have recently been learning to do. 

Both this past academic year and the many months of only seeing my peers through my computer screen have led me to jump at any and all opportunities for socializing. Through that I was able to form and strengthen many of my friendships.

However, I have been coming to terms with the fact that just because someone wants me to do something, doesn’t mean I have to meet their expectations.

I used to make myself get ready and go out on nights when I really should not have, whether I was tired, sick or whatever else. 

I did this mostly due to the fear of potentially missing out on a moment or inside joke. 

There is a feeling of uneasiness that I would wrestle with when I was not in the know during conversations. And I often used to make that uneasiness known to the people that I was with. I would ask questions and try to fill in the gaps, eager to learn what I had missed out on. 

I also feared that my friendships would not survive if I was not constantly present. 

Now, as I am in my third year at Lehigh, I can confidently say, “not tonight.” Or, respond honestly and say, “I don’t want to go,” when I am asked by friends or peers to go somewhere or attend some event. 

Ultimately, I wish that I could go back and tell my younger self that it’s OK to not be busy every second of the day. And it’s OK to not know everything. 

I am very comfortable with the friendships that I have established and I know that even if I miss a party or dinner or even an inside joke, things will be OK. 

Being involved is super important, and is also something that I work hard to do. While at school, finding balance in how I dedicate myself to my friends, extracurricular involvements, health and academics has been really important in ensuring that I am not neglecting important things just because I am afraid of missing out. 

By being intentional about what I am doing, rather than being motivated by fear, I have realized which relationships are most important to me and which people I should be surrounding myself with.

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1 Comment

  1. Robert F. Davenport Jr on

    It is good to see someone who is using intelligent thought as a way of attaining happiness in a complex world rather than demanding actions from others.

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