I’ve never been an addict (unless pizza counts as a drug) so I can’t say I relate to the suffering that comes with the disease. However, I have fallen victim to FOMO, which, in my opinion, definitely warrants the need for a rehab facility. FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” is “the fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss something great,” as defined by Urban Dictionary. I don’t need to tell you that, though, because if you have an interest in something but an obligation to something else, chances are you can relate. Maybe you have a midterm the next day or you’re getting sick or you have some other legitimate excuse for spending a quiet night in, but then your roommates storm into your room like the party pooper police. They beg and try to persuade you, but you really don’t need persuading. All you need to hear is that the party of the century is happening just down the street and everyone you know will be there. You don’t know if this claim is true, but it also doesn’t really matter. There is no way you can just sit in bed with a textbook while your best friends are dancing around the room and listening to your favorite pregame playlist. Your eyes dart back and forth between the book in your lap and that shot of tequila calling your name. What would Jesus do?
I can’t tell you what the right thing to do in this situation is, because I still haven’t figured it out for myself. But I can tell you which option you will most likely choose, and the steps your mind takes to get you there.
Stage 1: Total Confidence In Your Initial Decision To Stay In
You are a good student and a wise adult. You know what’s best for you, and that is to spend the night working out and getting ready to ace your next exam. Plus, being sober is good for your health, and sleep is something you definitely don’t get enough of. Maybe you could even watch your favorite movie before falling asleep. This relaxing evening is starting to sound exciting, and no one can convince you otherwise.
Stage 2: What If…
This is usually the part when your roommate, best friend, or really anyone you know skips into the room with the news of a party that night. The seed has now been planted, but you are strong, and you adamantly refuse by explaining your sensible plans. Somehow, they don’t seem that important when you say them aloud, and those “what if” questions start creeping into your mind. What if you’re missing out on a once in a lifetime college experience? What if your hookup is there and finds someone else? What if the midterm is easy and you wasted a night studying for nothing? Now you’re questioning the whole universe.
Stage 3: Denial
No, no, no, you cannot start doubting yourself. You made your decision before your mind was polluted with the sound of five people yelling “shots!” in the other room. They can shove as many beers in your face as they want, but it still won’t make you change your mind. There will be so many more chances to put on your party pants, but now is the time to focus. Pop in some earplugs, because there is NO WAY you are caving this time.
Stage 4: The Back And Forth
At this stage, you have a heated argument with the devil on your shoulder as FOMO starts creeping in. You didn’t foresee this attack, and it doesn’t help that, deep down, you really want the devil to win. You can take one night off–why not? But if you do, you’ll fail your midterm and then fail your class and then your life is ruined. But you can always retake the class. You can’t retake the party. You have to show some willpower. Parties aren’t even that important. But you want to goooooo. And the extreme indecisiveness might start to make you feel schizophrenic.
Stage 5: Speaking Hypothetically
Okay, let’s say you do go. Would it be fun? What would you even wear? You guess you should pick out an outfit, just in case. You should also figure out what everyone’s doing later. You’re not going to go, of course, but it couldn’t hurt to see what’s up.
Stage 6: Reasoning With Yourself
You’ve been studying for this test for what seems like ages. There’s no way you won’t get an A. This is the party of the century, and let’s not forget, you are a victim of FOMO here. Others have to be understanding of your condition. You have the perfect outfit in mind, too, and that doesn’t happen very often. It must be a sign. If you absolutely have to, you could always wake up early the next morning to study (we all know this never actually happens, but the thought comforts you nonetheless). Just don’t drink too much when you go out. Three drinks are enough, and you can wake up refreshed and ready for your exam. You’ve worked hard all week. You deserve this.
Stage 7: Caving
That’s it. It’s done. You are dressed to go out. There is one shot in your hand and there are two in your belly. There’s no turning back now. The devil has won, so let’s just hope your midterm goes alright. You’re not even upset. Your night is going to be great, and if it’s a mistake, then at least it’s a learning experience, and it will definitely give you some good memories. If this feels so right, how could it be wrong?