Editorial: Don't compare your college experience to someone else's Instagram

By The Beacon | September 1, 2016 9:55am

You’ve had a nice productive day: You went to the gym and finally ran the errands you’ve been telling yourself you’d do for a week. You’ve been thinking all day that you need to take some time for yourself just to relax.

You curl up on your bean bag chair, pull out your laptop, fire up Netflix and get ready to binge. Because hey, you’ve gotta treat yo’self.

You think, “I’ll check my phone just one more time.”


You’ve missed seven Snapchats of your friends at Villa Maria Hall’s “Tropic Like It’s Hot” party and one text with an address pin.

And then it hits you. FOMO.

FOMO, or fear of missing out, is hard to escape, but it is not impossible. Almost everyone feels FOMO kick in, especially at the beginning of college.

There are a couple ways to ease that feeling.

First thing’s first, if you talk to your friends, chances are everyone has felt FOMO in some way or another. Acknowledging that you are being plagued by this fear of missing out and working towards embracing your life the way it is is the first step towards being comfortable in your own skin without feeling obligated to be at every party.

Looking at high school friends’ Instagram posts of big football games and fraternity parties can make the University of Portland feel really small. But get out of your dorm room, paint your face and bounce around like a crazy person at a soccer game. Go to one of Campus Program Board’s movie showings. Sign up to get off campus for a hike in the Columbia Gorge with Outdoor Pursuits.

The opportunities to make memories here in Portland are countless, so find the things that you really love and (realistically) have time for. Stick to those things and quit stressing about what everyone else is doing.

Another thing to remember is that social media is rarely what it seems. Your best friend from high school might be posting a string of photos partying at football games with her new squad, but there are no Instagrams of her sitting alone in her dorm room feeling homesick. People post about the good things, not the bad. Don't forget that.

Don't feel pressured to recreate the party scenes of the movie “Neighbors” (you may not be Zac Efron, and that is OK).

If you’ve tested the waters and discovered that socializing til the wee hours of the morning in theme party fashion is the hub of your non-academic college wheel, embrace it! If you are Zac Efron, we’ll see you at the Boathouse party next weekend.

Keep in mind, the only opinion that matters about your college experience is your own. So, be safe, pour your own drinks and keep track of your friends. If you see something, say something. And be mindful of what photos end up on social media, as they may someday be available to your future employers.

At the UP, people care about you!

And if you still can’t shake that late-summer sadness, go talk to your Resident Assistant, a campus priest or the nice folks at the coffee bar in The Commons. These people are great to vent to after a long day or a fight with your long distance significant other.

While these people can all be great listeners, they are not necessarily licensed health professionals. The Health and Counseling Center in Orrico Hall offers free, short-term counseling. If you’re struggling to get acclimated, feeling sad, hopeless or like you’ve gotten a little too involved in the party scene, give them a call and they can almost always have you sitting down with a therapist within two business days!

Remember, going to college looks different for everyone, and it may take some time to determine exactly what the college experience should look like for you.