GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION BY CARLE DE MIRANDA
It’s a Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, and I’m sitting completely alone at Dante Park, just two blocks from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. Normally, I’d be wondering what on earth I was up to. It’s a bright, sunny Saturday for crying out loud. I should be going out to Brooklyn to see an art exhibit or trying new food in Queens. The day is so pretty and the weekend so short; I should be afraid of wasting it, right?
When I first toured Fordham as a high school senior, my tour guide told me one of the biggest problems Fordham students faced was FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” Now, as a freshman nearly through my first semester, I understand what she meant.
Fordham students, especially those of us at Lincoln Center, overwhelmingly seem to treat campus like a bubble we cannot wait to escape. That feeling extends to everything offered at school; club meetings are hilariously under-attended, people often bolt off campus the second their classes are done for the day and one cannot go two hours without hearing the exasperated phrase, “I really want to go out today.”
As someone who felt like high school was suffocatingly boring, I was quickly wrapped up in the culture of city “adventure-seeking” that so many of us subscribe to. I convinced myself that the first year of college was going to be my opportunity to learn about life in a visceral, real way. When I got here and discovered that so many other people my age felt the same way, I felt liberated. This was my chance to live the life I couldn’t in high school, and I was going to seize each and every day.
But now, in the sunny yet cold November, I’ve discovered that living in the moment doesn’t always have to mean some grand adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I still love all of what this city has to offer. New York is the greatest city in the world, after all. But I have come to the realization that I don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying a coffee alone in the park on a Saturday afternoon. Taking a moment to slow down in a city so fast is healthy. Finding isolation on such a crowded island gives the mind space to breathe. And, on a more practical level, using my declining balance dollars on a coffee and walking to a nearby park is a much cheaper way to have fun than trying to find a $10 sandwich in Union Square.
Enjoying life doesn’t mean saying yes to every event you hear about in the city, because the truth is some of them can feel like a total waste of time. Most other college students in America spend their days without leaving their campus at all, choosing to savor these little moments of peace much more often than the typical Fordham student. It’s probably fair to say that too much thirst for “adventure” can lead to disappointment when things turn out to be less than amazing. In my experience, constantly longing to find that “next memorable moment” has led to each of them becoming less spectacular. I can hardly remember last week’s Friday night, despite my hoping that exploring the city at night with friends would be a great use of my time. I have a feeling that’s because I woke up Saturday morning pining to go out yet again, wishing to find some new adventure.
Being afraid of missing out on all this city has to offer prevents us from appreciating the fun we do have. From a certain point of view, taking up every promise of “a good time” is shallow. Even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment, I’ve found that disappointment has a way of catching up with you. Sometimes, it’s okay just to let yourself be a college student. Whether that means staying in and playing Mario Party on a Sunday night or taking a group of friends to the Ram Cafe for lunch, we should be content with the simplicity of being a student in college, and not let the complexity of city life take that over.
A lot of people had it figured out before I did that a fear of missing out on the city causes you to miss out on yourself. College is a period of rapid growth and change for all of us, and sometimes that means taking a day for self-reflection and appreciation of the world around you. Taking things slowly doesn’t have to mean you’re missing out. In fact, I’ve found that a nice, refreshing day in the chilly fall air is a great way to relax the mind (and the wallet).