For those of us who are just starting out in University and are lucky enough to find new friends in school, the sudden influx of new pals and induction into new social circles means that there are just about a hundred ways you can choose to spend the day. After a lecture, do you go for lunch with your buddies from orientation camp, or just “dabao” back when you know you are tired and just need a good long nap? Or, you heard that a group of friends are having dinner and karaoke together tonight, but you know you have a mounting pile of work waiting for you in your room.
If you are staying on campus in a Hall or Residential College, you’ll know that this gets further intensified with not only the constant “open-jios” to play board games, watch movies till late, or eat supper, but also going for CCAs and Interest Groups that never seem to end.
It’s easy to get sucked into the hub-dub of things, where life seems to be all play, no work and no rest. We do this for a number of reasons. For some, it could be a simple fear of missing out (FOMO) on all the fun that seems to be going on. We don’t want to be the odd one out that’s missing from the gathering, afraid that next time, we will be the ones that are left out. For some, it could be that we genuinely enjoy all these activities and just enjoy being busy, even if it is at the expense of being well-rested and on track with schoolwork. The draw of social life is strong, its benefits undeniable.
But how do you withdraw when you know it is time to say no?
- The first step you can take is back: literally and figuratively.
Set aside some time to consider your situation from the bigger picture. Do you constantly feel tired, or are you merely convincing yourself you are invincible despite running on three hours of sleep every night? Do you find yourself talking less to people, wishing for your comfortable bed or some peace and solace at social gatherings as the night goes on? Are your studies going well? Do you understand what’s going on in tutorials, and if not, do you have time and energy to catch yourself up to speed?
From there, we can prioritise accordingly.
- Next, purposefully categorise your life. Ask: what is this activity/gathering/meeting doing to add to my life?
One useful technique to categorize activities in our life effectively is Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle. Some of us may also know this as Habit 3 in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: First Things First. Sounds like academic principles but hey – if it helps us gain some semblance of order in our lives, so we know clearly how much of ourselves we ought to be devoting to that event – why not?
| Important activities: leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.
e.g. studying for a test, cleaning your room, keeping to an exercise schedule.
| Urgent activities: demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.
e.g. responding to texts, replying to a comment on Instagram
- Cultivate gratitude for what you have in life, to combat FOMO.
Your mindset is your number one tool in eliminating FOMO. Appreciating what you already have, instead of chasing what you perceive to be lacking, will help you resist any form of FOMO and focus on what truly matters in life. Try writing down a list of things you’re grateful for every day, and you’ll be surprised at how much actually went well in each day of your life. It takes only five minutes, but the benefits are far-reaching.
Lastly, remember that all these social activities that you experience FOMO from, might not be as great an experience as it’s made out to be. It’s easy to fall prey to the Facebook Illusion – perhaps more apt to be named Instagram Illusion now – where events and people are distorted in the limelight of social media; being selected, filtered and captioned in a manner reminiscent of cherry picking. Only highlight reels are allowed on our profiles, and these reels scream of shiny, beautifully filtered photos. But is it always the truth? Probably not. Why fall prey to FOMO on something that may not even be real or genuine?
Though agreeing for that late-night card game might look like the most attractive option for the moment, doing that five nights out of seven, could mean that you have less time to spend on things that matter just as greatly – your sleep, your studies, your fitness schedule, all crucial in achieving total well-being.
So, while you go say no to the next (unnecessary) outing, the rest of your life is waiting for you!
What else would you do to combat FOMO? Tell us in the comments!