Story by Ryan Yoong, Contributing Reporter

Image by Lucy Kuo, Visuals and Design Editor

At Yale-NUS College, where opportunities are as common as posters in the lifts, it’s easy to be consumed by the fact that we could potentially be missing out on what our peers are up to. Even outside the confines of the College, the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), is so prevalent that it has essentially become the successor of its older counterpart, You Only Live Once (YOLO).

With that in mind, it’s safe to say that most of us here have a deeply ingrained case of FOMO even if we don’t realise it. Our time is limited, and inevitably we are unable to do a whole list of things everyday—a constant struggle. Being a first-year, it struck me that the term had negative connotations. From constant warnings by my Dean’s Fellow to a long discussion about it with an advisor, I’ve always wondered—why are people so up in arms about it?

The anxiety that an exciting event may be happening elsewhere often haunts us because of our addiction to social media (refer to Look Up by Gary Turk). But somehow, FOMO goes beyond  that. It has become more than just scrolling through your Twitter or Instagram feeds—it’s the need to somehow remain connected. It is about keeping in sync with the pulse of the institution. We think we all want the same thing, and derive the same pleasure from a similar set of activities. But it shouldn’t be the case. We make active choices everyday with regard to what we want to do and how we spend our time, so why not use FOMO to guide us through this elusive search for ourselves?

It is okay to fear missing out when it’s for something you love to do. Let this fear empower you. Embrace the fact that Ultimate Frisbee is something you are afraid you’ll miss every week or  that Indomie in the buttery is something you might crave between a study break. Let it guide, not constrict.

It is okay to fear missing out when you think something will be good for your personal development. Make sure to weigh your pros and cons first. We often tend to neglect the things that we believe have no direct concern to us, but we must consider the benefits that could come from anything and everything. So go for that Birthday Bash even if it’s not your birthday, or watch that whole lamb roast because, who knows, you might meet your future spouse or your next best friend.

It is okay to fear missing out when you’re faced with an opportunity to delve into something new. Experiences are something we highly value and here at Yale-NUS we are faced with plenty of them. Try that Zumba class, go for that Tchoukball session, or apply to be that research assistant for a professor. You might love it—if not, at least you would’ve had fun jamming out, meeting fellow Tchoukball newbies, and maybe learning something unusual about your professor. At worst, you would’ve found something you don’t love, and even that has value too.

While I believe that the positive case for FOMO outweighs the negative one, I do acknowledge that there are certain instances in which you should not succumb to it. Don’t let yourself run out of steam. Someone recently likened the lifestyle here to a marathon rather than a sprint and I believe this to be particularly true. If you’re swamped with writing assignments due in the coming week, don’t insist on trying that Zumba class this time—there’ll be plenty more in the future. However, if being busy is what you enjoy, then by all means, flaunt that superpower many wish they had.

To everyone telling themselves to contain their inner FOMO, I say, embrace it because opportunities like the ones we have here rarely come about again.

The views expressed here are the author’s own. The Octant welcomes all voices in the community. Email submissions to: yncoctant@gmail.com

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