Disgraceful: NOMO FOMO

By Grace Miller | 5/4/17 5:01pm

Earlier this week, I was texting my editors about trying to be better about turning in my articles on time. This is how it went:

Me: I’ll try to get you my article on Tuesday. That work?
Editor #1: Great, we’ll receive it Saturday then!
Me: Wow you got me, good burn.
Editor #2: Where the aloe at?

The thing is, my editors aren’t wrong­­­ — I pretty consistently turn in articles five days late. What’s dumb about this is that I used to be an editor and know how annoying this is. Yet, I still do it. This week, I want to talk about being flakey.

We make lunch plans then cancel 10 minutes before because something came up (even if that something is not wanting to go). We don’t respond to blitzes and text messages and two days later exclaim, “Omg I can’t believe I didn’t see that. So sorry I missed your recital!” We will not be caught dead arriving on time to something. I have a friend who refers to it as “Dartmouth time.” She says she once arrived to a dinner 30 minutes late and was the first one there. We join a club, get involved and at the first sign of commitment or strain we drop out. There is nothing more heartbreaking than trying to keep a group you are passionate about afloat as person after person stops showing up. It’s a catch-22: you can’t get people to show up unless everyone shows up.

The worst flakiness in my opinion is the inability to make plans. I’m not talking about trying to find a coinciding free hour in two peoples’ schedules. (I’ve had more back and forth trying to make lunch plans than two freshman trying to play pong.) What I’m talking about is the reluctance to solidify plans. Someone proposes a Saturday activity, a pregame on a Friday or a concert three weeks from now, and we slither around confirming whether or not we will be there. We find it difficult to give a solid yes or no answer.

We do this because we see our time as valuable, and we want to maximize it. What if we say “yes” to going to FNR tonight, then our crush asks us to play pong? What if the party we go to is like a seven, but we get invited to a party that’s a definite nine? We don’t ever want to be without plans, but we also don’t want to be locked into plans that aren’t the best. So we keep our options open, we give tentative yeses to lots of people and bail on half of them. We are always looking for the next best thing.

This isn’t just with plans, but with conversations as well. I’ve begun to notice that sometimes when I talk to people, they seem to be looking over me (which is pretty impressive considering I’m 6 foot 2). While we are in conversation in KAF, the other person’s eyes won’t meet mine, but will be constantly scanning the room, looking for his or her next conversation, calculating if there is a better option to talk to. They are basically using me as a buffer before their next conversation, too anxious to sit alone or wait in silence for their drink to come out. They don't want to look like a “loser” not talking to anyone, but they also don’t want to invest in our conversation. This infuriates me.

My theory is that this all stems from my least favorite term: FOMO, or “The Fear of Missing Out.” We are constantly scrolling on our phones through Instagrams, Snapchat stories, profile pictures of our friends having the “BEST TIME EVER OMG,” and we want to have it too. When we see how much “fun” everyone else is having, it makes our lives seem that much worse. What would usually make us so happy, doing a puzzle with some friends or playing pong with our floormates, suddenly pales in comparison to that wild and crazy night our other friends are broadcasting on social media.

I’m going to let you in on a secret I learned in high school. My sports teams used to have “team dinners” the night before games where we would all go to a teammates house and their parents would feed use exorbitant amounts of pasta. My freshman year I was so awkward I think I said maybe eight words the whole season, which were probably “I hope I don't annoy you with my presence.” As such, at team dinners, I would get relegated to the weenie side of the table where we sat in silence and watched our cooler teammates laugh and talk on the other side. I couldn't ever think of anything to say because my mind was so preoccupied thinking about how awesome it would be to sit on the other side and wondering what they were laughing about. I had FOMO, and sophomore year I learned how to fix it. I didn’t have to be on the “fun side” of the table if I just made my side of the table fun. I started acting like everyone’s stories were the most interesting stories, laughing at every joke like it was the funniest joke and gradually people started to believe it.

The only way you “miss out” is by not being present. The only way to be at a party that is a 10 is by believing that the party you’re at is a 10. Instead of spending so much time looking for the place that is “the best,” make wherever you are the best place to be. A girl in my sorority (who happens to also be named Grace) once said, “Be the scene you want to see in the world,"  and I couldn’t agree more. So make definitive plans, agree to get lunch, go to that club and make it fun. Act like whoever you are talking to is fascinating, and they will usually rise to the occasion. Show up to places confident that you made the right choice, because you did. And stop being so damn flakey.


Grace Miller