The first few months of university are incredibly exciting, but can also be very overwhelming. Club activities, virtual events, and assignments galore...how do you choose what to prioritize while also taking care of yourself?
Picture this: You've finally made it back to your room after a long day of lectures, ready to tackle your mountain of a to-do list, when all of a sudden—bzzt bzzt—your phone lights up showing yet another invite from your classmate or residence neighbour.
With your friends begging you to join 30 different clubs and workshops, and events going on 24/7, how can you stay in touch with what you need to maintain a balanced lifestyle—while also making the most out of your university experience?
I'm here to share 3 things that helped me on my journey to embracing JOMO. Hopefully, they'll help you embrace the power of JOMO, too!
You might know about FOMO, but what's JOMO?
While FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out, JOMO is the Joy of Missing Out. JOMO is all about being at peace with what's occurring in the now, instead of always worrying about what you might be missing!
Moving from a super small high school to a huge university, I struggled majorly with FOMO during my first year. I was overwhelmed, and lacked guidance on how to manage my feelings of missing out with the realities of what being a student demanded. After giving into my FOMO one too many times, my sleep, grades, and self-care suffered.
Embracing JOMO helped me ground myself while still having a fun and fulfilling experience during my first year. Here's how:
I learned it's okay to say no
Growing up having to commute 2 hours every day for middle school and high school, the remainder of my day when I finally got home was spent eating quickly and doing my homework. I didn't have too many opportunities to make friends outside of my school bubble. With the few friends I did have, most of our social interaction came from extracurriculars at school. Balancing commuting, coursework, and a new social life in university, however, is a whole different ball game.
I wanted to say yes to everyone asking me to hang out with them, and for the first few months of first year, I did. I didn't want my new friends to think I didn't like them! Besides, whenever I said no, hearing their stories afterwards made me feel like a green-eyed monster. Eventually, I realized that saying yes to everything wasn't doing me any favours—I didn't want to speed around like the Road Runner on campus or hastily try to finish my homework anymore.
Saying no takes practice—at least it did for me! I started off small, by saying no to the opportunities I knew would always be available, like daily breakfast invitations. Fortunately, the more "nos" I started to hand out, the more confident I became in my actions and in my priorities. I became more and more okay with not having every day be a "Yes Day". The confidence I gained from saying no helped me realize that missing out only felt as bad as I allowed it to feel. This realization was my first step in learning to embrace JOMO.
I prioritized my needs
I don't know about you, but I need my minimum 8 hours of beauty sleep or I turn into someone that looks a bit too much like that one grumpy cat. But prioritizing your needs doesn't mean just prioritizing sleep, food, water, and academics—it's about prioritizing the balance between your social and solitary needs as well. In first year, I felt so much pressure to prioritize my friends, that I forgot to prioritize myself.
I wish I could tell my first-year self that it's okay to take some time for yourself! For extroverts and introverts alike, downtime after a lot of social interaction can be important—alone time can help you recharge your batteries and reflect on your day.
After realizing that time alone was the perfect opportunity for reorganization, reflection, and relaxation, I started to make time alone a priority. This was the second thing I did on my journey to embrace JOMO—I found joy in taking care of my priorities, and most importantly, practicing self-care.
Making space for self-care can be tricky, especially with what feels like a million other tasks on your to-do list. What worked for me? Allotting time every week for some much needed me-time. Whether it was a face mask and Netflix night, or journaling on the beach after class, self-care helped me tune in with my feelings and my battery level. Even if I didn't follow my plans exactly, creating room for self-care gave me peace in knowing I could find time for the pieces in my life I wanted to prioritize.
There are so many other ways to make space for your self-care—like reading a new book that's trending on #BookTok or trying out that one pasta recipe you've been putting on the back burner—so there is sure to be something that's your cup of tea.
I was intentional with my time on social media
With a million different types of apps that show us how others are spending their time, it can be really hard to escape FOMO. Social media has a tendency to make you feel like Alice in Wonderland as you slowly fall down the rabbit hole of selfies, boomerangs, and collages. Truthfully, I've sat down on my couch before, telling myself I'm going to only watch a few TikToks, to find the sun setting behind me a solid three hours later.
Embracing JOMO doesn't mean just prioritizing your academics or self-care and learning to let go of the pressure around you; it can also mean understanding the source of some of those pressures. For me, that was social media.
I had a tendency to reach for my phone the second there was a lull in the busyness of my day, so my friend recommended downloading an app to help me limit my screen time. I also set timers on my phone to limit my use of each social media app to 15 minutes a day. It's helped me stay focused on my goals and commitments, while also letting me actively experience more of the world around me. Research shows that the impact of technology on our happiness is significant. Preventing FOMO from social media can help, and maybe in this case, ignorance really is bliss.