#PrincetonPreview: I Never Understood the meaning of FOMO ... Until I Got to Princeton

April 9, 2016
Michelle Greenfield

FOMO—meaning Fear Of Missing Out—is a serious condition that Princeton students know all too well. When this word first became in vogue, I do not know, but since stepping onto the sacred grounds of Princeton’s campus, it has become part of my everyday vocabulary.

See, in high school, I thought I was super busy and always thought life would be easier if I could be in two or three places at once. For instance, I needed to be at softball practice, but a friend of mine invited me to go watch a movie, and then I had an essay to write for APUSH (A.P. United States History). I had to pick priorities, and I thought then, just how would I ever decide what I wanted to do? Little did I know things would get even worse (in the best possible way) when I got to Princeton.

Now, rather than two or maybe three things going on at the same time, I need an army of clones in order to do everything I want to do on a given day. For example, the following is a typical day in the life of Michelle filled with dozens of choices about what to do.

8:30 a.m: I get up to go running. I should have probably slept in since I was up late studying last night, but I need to train for a half marathon. I also could have joined my friends down in Butler College for a group workout, but that would require coming back up campus to shower after, which would eat up valuable time. 

10 a.m.:  I could go to breakfast at Quad (the eating club I am a member at), but I decide to eat an apple and peanut butter in my room and get some reading done. It would have been fun to see my friends or perhaps meet new friends, but getting work done is also a good decision.

11 a.m.: Go to class. It’s honestly a shame I have class at 11 because I need to make a McCosh appointment and 11 was the only time available today, but class is far more important and takes priority.

12:20 p.m.: I want to catch up with my friends at lunch, so I could go to the dining hall. But there’s a speaker coming today at 12:30 p.m. who sounded interesting. I could try to go to the speaker for a little bit and then go eat lunch, but that sounds really complicated, so I decide to just go eat with my friends.

1:30 p.m.: Organic Chemistry Lab. Lab is really interesting, and I often feel like a mad scientist. However, because it’s so long, I’m unable to do anything else that occurs during this three-hour block.

4:30 p.m.: I have a Center For Jewish Life board meeting as soon as I’m out of lab. Unfortunately, office hours for my stats class are at the same time. And to make matters worse, there’s a workshop this afternoon for looking at climate change through the lens of art that I would have loved to go to.

6 p.m.: There is a Firestone society meeting tonight, which is essentially a book club. I also have volleyball practice. There’s an organic chemistry review session that I should probably go to as well, since I didn’t quite understand the lectures this week. And at some point I should probably think about eating dinner.

8 p.m.: Princeton Student Events Committee is hosting a study break tonight filled with smoothies and make your own zen garden. One of my friends is in the Naacho (South Indian dance group) show tonight that I definitely want to be at to support her. There’s an arch sing at some point with a few a capella groups that would be fun to visit. Then there’s my best friend who I haven’t seen all week because she’s been studying for an exam that I really want to catch up with. And I can’t forget about my RCA’s (residential college advisor) study break tonight with grilled cheese from Say Cheese restaurant in downtown Princeton. SO MANY CHOICES!

11 p.m.: Although some people might continue the saga until the early hours of the morning, my day ends here. I want to stay up later to chill with my friends, and I do feel like I’m missing out on fun times by going to sleep. However, I value sleep way too much and know this is the best decision for my well-being.

So there you have it. So much going on in a typical day, and this isn’t even everything. Princeton is incredible in the diversity of events that occur every day, which is absolutely amazing, but it means that I’m faced with hundreds of choices each and every day about how I want to spend my time. Although I still struggle to realize that I can’t do everything and be everywhere, I have to prioritize and do what I think is best for that day.

All in all. This is a great problem to have. I’d rather have too many choices than not enough. It’s just a shame that the choices are all so good!