How First Years Have Dealt With FOMO During COVID

Despite some community events, freshmen still say they struggled to meet people. 

FOMO, the fear of missing out, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary back in 2013 and is probably something many freshmen are far too familiar with. Experiencing FOMO is common, even natural, and is only heightened by the current state of the world. Science has shown that FOMO occurs when someone has a lack of satisfaction with his or her current social life, something that most people, especially freshmen, are experiencing right now with the pandemic. One might be stalking a friend who goes to school in Florida, jealous of the insane parties she seems to be going to while sitting in a dorm room for yet another chill Friday movie night. One might even be stalking his or her older sister, looking at all her posts from her wild times in college. While scrolling through endless posts of people somehow partying despite the pandemic, one could find themselves miserable. One of the most important things to remember as this unusual year of college winds down is that no one is alone in this feeling.

Throughout this year at Villanova, the administration and clubs were innovative as they hosted food trucks, NOVAdance, fire pits on the weekend and so much more. While the University put in the work to make this year feel as normal as possible, many freshmen feel as though they missed out on a typical freshman experience. Coming into college, they were fed stories of how wild and exciting the first year at college was, and in most cases, they didn’t get anywhere close to this idyllic picture. One of the most challenging parts of freshman year for many was finding friend groups. 

“It was really hard to branch out and meet new people,” freshman Valeria Torres said. “Most of my friendships formed within my dorm building and I found it hard to do things outside of my little friend group.”

Instead of having an enormous friend group to hang out with, Torres found that she hung out with a smaller, more tight-knit group. While this could be viewed as a positive during the pandemic, Torres, along with many freshmen, still wished they had a wider network of friends so that campus felt more like home. 

“You see pictures of your friends who go to colleges that don’t necessarily follow all the precautions hanging out in huge groups, and I kind of wish I had that sometimes,” Torres said. 

Another aspect that distraught many freshmen girls was the delay of sorority recruitment. Due to the large spike of COVID-19 cases back in February, recruitment was pushed back to the end of March. 

“Having sorority recruitment really late was rough,” freshman Alex Tessendorf said. “I saw all my friends hanging out with their sorority friends early on in the semester. I was so looking forward to meeting new people, but now everything feels rushed.”

In combination with already having a semester in which students couldn’t go out or meet new people as they would have in a regular year, the late sorority recruitment was challenging. Again, it was another hurdle in the effort of meeting new people. Now that sorority recruitment has happened, Tessendorf feels as though she is branching out, but she doesn’t have a lot of time to do so before heading back home for the semester. 

With such an unusual year that put freshmen in a unique position, there had been a lot of innovation on their part to make the year feel somewhat normal. Trying not to feel like they are missing out on the normal experience, freshmen learned to make do with their circumstances.

“One thing that I have found really helpful is to try to make routines with the friends that you have found here,” freshman Maggie Winston said. “Maybe that's going to CampCo every Friday or having a group study date once a week.”

On top of creating these routines, freshmen, such as Winston, have found that trying their best to explore the area around campus can be a way to have fun while also following COVID-19 restrictions. In terms of dealing with the FOMO while living in a pandemic, Torres encourages the freshmen to understand that they still have three more years left and to really reflect on the good times they’ve had despite the restrictions. 

“It’s really important to recognize that your life is incomparable to anyone else’s,” Winston said. “To ignore the FOMO I’ve felt this year, I’ve tried to focus on the amazing friends I have met here. I also find it helpful to take a day off social media to recharge and escape from all of the perfect posts we see on social media.”

Although this year may not have gone as planned for many Villanova students, reflecting on the fact that we were lucky enough to spend a full year at college can be helpful to overcome the FOMO one may feel when looking at other people’s lives. It’s important to remember that a whole class of students are going through the same thing and look forward to the (hopefully) normal) years in the future.