Angelina Jorge may be studying abroad in Costa Rica, but she can’t shake a mild case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Missing her shot at the National Skills USA competition is especially difficult, even when surrounded by astounding beauty.
During JWU study abroad orientation, a lot of different people from a lot of different places get the chance to speak to you. Students who studied abroad, alumni who studied abroad, study abroad officers, and even professors all gather to give you advice and help you prepare. The part of that orientation that stuck out to me the most was the part about FOMO. FOMO is short for: the fear of missing out. Students warned us not to fall into the trap because there are others who would kill to be in our shoes. Forget about the parties, forget about the 4th of July barbecues, forget about the birthdays and the weddings, and forget about everything else happening in the states that are happening without you. They said to us, “You should turn FOMO into JOMO, the joy of missing out."
FOMO is different for everyone and it is very real. You don’t actually realize how much it may affect you or how quickly it becomes amplified once you leave and these events start happening. For me, it was the National, yes National Skills USA competition. I highlighted the word "National" because, as some of you may know, to participate in the national competition you must first be a gold medalist in your category from your state competition. As a senior, this year was my last and only chance to compete against 49 of the country’s best and most skilled collegiate culinarians. And yes, I tried to go to both but there is only so much you can do when both study abroad and Skills USA plan these events so far in advance.
A handful of students have to celebrate their birthdays away from their families while others are missing baptisms, births, marriage proposals, or even something as simple as a lunch date with your best friend. It seems so cool at first, “Wow you get to spend your birthday in Costa Rica?” But FOMO doesn’t work like that. Emotions don’t take the future into consideration; so while this may be a cool story later on in life, it’s a painful memory right now. The vicious cycle of FOMO and the guilt you feel for having FOMO constitutes yet another internal struggle you must fight to win.
So to all of those “experienced” professionals and alumni that gave us all that unsolicited advice about FOMO: thanks but no thanks. Because no matter what you say or do, FOMO is different for everyone and it is very real.