PARTING SHOT: Have FOMO over the right things

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Sarah Ashman was a Life columnist for The Cavalier Daily. 

Courtesy Amy Cherry of Amy Nicole Photography

Over my four years at the University, it has become a running joke between my friends and me that I most definitely do not have “FOMO” or “fear of missing out.” On the contrary, I have the unique ability to miss home football games, big parties, catered tailgates, concerts, fall break trips, and — dare I say it? — even basketball games without batting an eyelash.

As I’ve been found again and again tucked away under my comforter with a Bronte classic in hand or located in a distant city via “find my friends,” it’s been hypothesized by many that I may even possess “JOMO” or the joy of missing out. I’ve often teased my friends back for how tightly they hold onto the stereotypical collegiate experience and how religiously they attend its sacred events. To be quite honest, I’ve never understood “FOMO” — why would I want to be compelled by fear to do anything?

However, as I approach the end to these sweet, adventurous four years, I want to tell you that I was wrong. “FOMO” is worth having. But I want you to hear this. Don’t be afraid of missing out on movie-scene college, be afraid of missing out on your own personal growth — and let it light a fire under you to fight for it.

So often, “FOMO” is associated with events — most of which I did not care about as an undergraduate. I can tell you from personal experience that neither attending nor missing any one event had make-it or break-it power in my life, and I don’t think it will have that kind of influence in yours either.

What molded me into the woman who will walk across the Lawn next month wasn’t a crazy night or athletic comeback — though I do shamelessly adore the Lighting of the Lawn each year — I became who I am today through showing up for my own life in very different, habitual ways.

To begin, I started going to counseling as a way to sort through all of the messages I had received and, consciously or unconsciously, adopted about my personal power, my place in this world, and my worth. I started to identify some of the lies I had learned as a little girl and I began the hard work of replacing them with the truths I wanted to live by — that I had a voice, that my desires were important and that my presence was valuable.

I also went on dates — like, honest-to-god, “would you want to go out to dinner with me sometime?” dates. I went on awkward first dates, and second dates, and terrible dates and wonderful dates I’ll never forget. I know that in 2019 you can flirt, be in a relationship and even breakup with someone without going on a single date, but please don’t. Give someone your full attention, listen to their story because they’re a complex human being, play hard to get because you deserve to be pursued and have more face to face conversations than sent texts. It’s amazing what you will learn about yourself and others when given the proper time and space to be holistic, complicated people.

Finally, I did my class reading and went to office hours because the professors at this University are absolutely brilliant, and I wanted to learn from them all that I could. Not to mention that my English and American Studies professors have served as treasured mentors, dear friends and solid ground in overwhelming chaos throughout my time at this University. They are gems, my friends — don’t throw those relationships away. You fought and worked and waited to get in to this University. Don’t leave without learning all that you possibly can. Take the classes that excite you, pursue the topics that make you feel the dorky-kind of giddy and learn about the issues that infuriate you. Ask yourself not what you’re accomplishing today, but who you’re becoming today.

So many people spend so much time being afraid of missing out on the photographable days and nights they won’t remember anyway. The truth is, you’re not missing anything special on the corner. Dear Hoos, be afraid of missing out on the unglamorous, sometimes difficult, day-in and day-out divine appointments that are going to make you into the person you were meant to be.

Have “FOMO” over the little things — they become the big parts of you. 

Sarah Ashman was a Life columnist for The Cavalier Daily. 

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