FOMO: The Feeling of Missing Out.
This phrase is used to often describe the feeling people—specifically those who use social media—experience when they see their friends living their best lives: Going on vacations, meeting glamorous people, filling every hour of every day with plans. It’s a strange feeling—almost guilt-like. It’s as though we feel guilty for hating that other people are genuinely enjoying their lives; however, we forget to remember that people only share their most filtered, streak-free, Windexed moments. They don’t share those moments when fingerprints cover the glass or when it gets too cold and ice is frozen to the windshield. They only show us those panes that have been wiped clean.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as my friends have been moving on with their lives. I’m in my last semester at Ball State University, and I could not be more grateful for the education I have received. I’ve had the ability to experience multiple areas of study, partake in an internship that completely changed my life, experience what it is like to publish a literary journal, and form relationships with friends and professors I will never forget. All of these opportunities and people shaped me, molded me, shook me, and helped me.
As I think about where I was when I entered Ball State and where I am now, I am grateful. I truly, wholeheartedly am. I’m thankful for every lost night of sleep, every hour spent in the library or at The Cup, and for every kind remark and critique on an essay.
Even so, I am a little sad.
My friends in the English department are applying to graduate schools all over the country—they are taking the grand leap across the canyon in order to figure out their proper footing. They are going on their own excursions in order to learn, expand, and succeed. They are doing exactly what I hope to do. My journey, though, isn’t as straight or as clear. I’ve had many career goals in the past because I was afraid to admit I want to make a career out of doing what I love, and for that, I have this weird feeling. It’s as though I’m being punished for taking those risks, but I know that isn’t the case. That isn’t how life unfolds. We do not receive punishments for taking chances on what is worthwhile, needed, and important.
Do I wish I had chosen Creative Writing as my concentration when I first entered Ball State as a freshman? It would have made this transition easier. I would probably even be applying to graduate schools right now, and this essay would not even exist. It would never come to fruition; however, I am thankful for the risks I took. I am thankful for my experiences in journalism and politics and secondary teaching. They all created this obtuse mold of what I hope for in my future. I have enough experience in journalism to tackle literary journalism and conquer my fear of meeting and hopefully interviewing my writing inspirations. I have experience in politics, and for that, I found my fire for social justice—it now fuels most of my writing. I have experience in secondary teaching, but I realize my true love would be to teach about the place in which my heart resides—the nonfiction classroom.
Even so, I am a little sad.
I have an entire year to take risks. I could be a server. I could find work in an office. I could get an internship with a literary agency. I could get an internship with a publishing house. I could work at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I could try the new millennial way of joining an online business and working from home. I could move across the country and work in a coffee shop. I have endless opportunities for how to spend my free year, but they all feel like roadblocks—like unnecessary potholes in my path.
I’m not writing this to whine, complain, or explain myself. I think I’m writing this to simply think. I’m trying to clear my head and gain a better vision for how to enjoy my last semester as a human without major responsibilities. Once I enter graduate school, I cannot stop the forward movement. I’ll begin writing nonfiction, and before I know it, those who choose to read my work will learn about the Lauren on the page. Granted, who I am on the page and who I am in real life tend to vary. I’m not always as upbeat as I sometimes seem. I’m not always as confused as I sometimes seem. I’m a conundrum of a human with dreams and hopes and worries and confusion. But that’s okay.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.