Cate Roser

I know all of my college friends’ bitmojis. I promise it’s not because I avidly use bitmojis in text conversation or anything like that. The truth is that Snapchat’s map feature and I are quite good friends. Checking Snap Map has unfortunately become a bit of a boredom tick; a guilty pleasure if you will. Sitting alone in the Gilmore Music Library? Swipe up on Snapchat and see what everyone’s big-eyed, bunny-dressed bitmoji is up to. Someone hasn’t responded to my text in ~30 seconds? Swipe up and check the last time they were active. It’s not really an invasion of privacy if they choose to display it to their friends and followers, right?

As I’ve gotten acquainted with the Silliman dining hall and Sterling’s weekend hours, I’ve become all too familiar with FOMO — Fear of Missing Out —  since my arrival here at Yale as well. On a campus full of brilliantly vibrant people all doing exciting things, it’s hard not to crack under the pressure. To try and match that brilliance and partake in all of those vibrant things. 

As a self-recognized socially anxious freshman, when I got a text from my friend Grace (thanks, Grace!) that the Yale-Harvard football tickets had been released, I did what had to be done: instantly left class to refresh my phone 100 times and secure one. God forbid all of the tickets sell out and I end up shut out of the stadium while the rest of my newfound friends cheer inside for 30 minutes (before getting bored with the Game and leaving too).

Deep down, though, it didn’t matter if I thought they would be at The Game for 15 minutes or three hours. I knew that even if I didn’t secure a ticket right then and there, I’d find another way to snag one. Sneaking into the stadium, Fizz resale, I’m not exactly sure, but desperate times call for desperate creativity –– I had confidence in my sheer desire to not be alone. It didn’t end up mattering because I got a ticket, in case you were curious. Nevertheless, I did, without shame, walk out of my Chinese class to ensure I wasn’t left out in the cold. 

This educational sacrifice was not an isolated incident. Later that week, I performed in my first dance show here at Yale (yeah YD!). My final show happened to coincide with a birthday celebration of a good friend of mine. Similarly, my initiation into the dance group earlier this year in September also happened to fall on another good friend’s birthday. Just my luck, right?

I’d spent that first initiation night in September anxious. Every few minutes I swiped up on Snap Map, watching as the group of bitmojis together across campus grew larger and larger. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast walking around dressed — and painted — like a minion from Despicable Me, but sometimes you can’t help but let the worries seep in. What if this was the night everyone I’d met formed an unbreakable bond, and I would miss it? What if in the two hours I was gone, everyone realized they had double the fun without me there? Yet, I was relieved when I met up with my friends, painted yellow and slightly exhausted, and was greeted with open arms. A fresh sigh of relief. 

When I realized that this FOMO would seep in again, I promised myself that nothing monumental would occur while I was gone. How much really changes in three hours anyways? 

That night, when I stepped onto the roof of our celebratory cast party, I could see my friends two houses down in another backyard. As they danced and laughed with one another, I waved hello to them from afar. For the first time, I felt no inkling of leg-tapping anxiety take over. I allowed myself to live in the moment, to enjoy where I was and celebrate the show I had just completed. 

I realized that I needed to start and enjoy the one place I actually was instead of worrying about everywhere I was not. No matter where you are, there will always be something else happening in some distant corner of campus. There is always something exciting to do: a group dinner, an exciting show, a silly dance party. But naturally, you can’t be everywhere at once. That’s the kind of beauty in a place like Yale; there’s limitless opportunity. 

You could, however, let that realization overtake you. You could try to be everywhere, always swiping up on Snap Maps, always leaving class early to make sure you have a seat at the table. High School Me (okay and let’s be honest, sometimes College Me, too) would probably do that. 

Don’t let that vastness of opportunity blind you to being present where you are. Paint yourself yellow and dress up as a minion. Stand on a roof and celebrate weeks worth of accomplishment. Those friends will wait. And if they don’t, you need new friends. I guess that’s an article for another time, though. 

KAITLYN POHLY