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FOMO on the Farm: An existential perspective

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Coming to Stanford all the way from Dirty Jerz (NJ) and settling into post-NSO life, I feel an insurmountable pressure to make the most of this fancy education, to foster lifelong friendships and simply to keep up instead of sitting in my room eating a sleeve of Oreos dipped in peanut butter

Although these past few weeks have been filled with more familiar faces and increasing comfort, there remains an ever-increasing fear: FOMO (fear of missing out).

This acronym came to life during my first extravagant social gathering at Stanford outside of my five-course meals at Stern Dining. It was a night when the classiest newbies of Stanford gathered to toast their prestige: Eurotrash. Getting semi-trampled by college frosh was not my most desirable activity during that fine evening, but I attempted to go with the flow of optimism and warm, enthusiastic bodies.

I entered somewhat eager in a recently Amazon-Primed red tutu. The blaring music, people dancing on elevated surfaces and conversations with strangers felt liberating and discomforting all at once. Standing on the side, estranged from the crowd, a feeling that has become quite familiar, recently wavered through my body. I felt as if I was missing something all the figures dancing in the moonlight knew. This may seem like a bit of a dramatic and confusing realization from a lackluster party with poor music choices and dormcest but bear with me.

Let me paint a picture:

It is 2:13 a.m. You are mid-way through your pset that is due in the morning, or maybe you’re watching “The Office” for the eighth time with a headphone in one ear. There is an unsettling silence around you. You feel a sudden fear that you will fail to sustain the tale of purposeful progress that has become intrinsic to your being.

You worked tirelessly in your brace-faced teenage years which culminated in a trip down Palm Drive with your hair blowing effortlessly in the wind and your eyes fixated on the cardinal red “Welcome to Stanford” sign. You expected Stanford to be a fantastical land of self-reinvention and eligible soulmate candidates with whom romance and witty banter would flow seamlessly.

From queen to plebeian, you now swim in a sea of perfectly toned Olympic athletes, revolutionary researchers and child prodigies. Constantly surrounded by the aforementioned people, it becomes embarrassingly easy to get wrapped up in others’ endeavors rather than look introspectively. This existential form of FOMO simply refers to the general angst surrounding the continuous pressure to be ahead of the curve in all social activities and academic opportunities. Denying your new commoner status, you refuse to be the one missing out.

My proposed solution to this proverbial fall from grace: Maybe slow down a little?

We are young and inexperienced but very clever and slightly aggressive in one way or another. Start with little things that pique your interest, and take some time to question your own actions. In the long run, by making decisions for yourself alone, you’ll hopefully avoid a few life crises resulting from skipping mindlessly down a path of wasted time and unexplored personal desires. We must each create the meaning of our own Stanford experience and our own personal justifications for spending an exorbitant amount of money to be here.

Contact Alanna Flores at alanna13 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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