Fear Of Missing Out is the most common meaning of the abbreviation: FOMO (pronounced: “foe-moe”). As much as I can identify with this meaning I think a more accurate version for me would be Fear Of Missed Opportunity.
I loved going to the Academy of the New Church and have so many fond memories of the wide variety of activities I took part in. As I get farther in time from my high school experience, I am able to recognize just how big of an impact it had on me and my personality.
I took a lot of things with me after leaving the Academy and most of them are pretty typical of all high school experiences. But the biggest thing I took away was not only unique to the Academy, but also totally subconscious. In high school we were encouraged to try everything, to participate in everything, and to always do our best. The faculty had high expectations for their students and the student body was small enough that they could hold each of us personally responsible for our success. You had to be a good student to stay on top and earn the approval of the teachers. That isn’t to say that they held everyone to the same standard or individually chastised us, but there was a definite attitude that you owed it to your teacher to get good grades.
Another side effect of having a small student body was that in order for things to happen, a majority of the students had to be involved and for a lot of things they were. The theater productions are a good example. When the play came around (especially the musical) it was a school wide production. All sorts of people were involved whether they were interested in theater in the long run or not. Those same people were involved in sports and extracurriculars on top of their regular academics. Even when the musical was over there were always other things to fill your time with.
Now, personal responsibility and participating in a wide range of activities isn’t a bad thing, but taking that mindset out of the Academy and into a college environment has been an interesting experience. I find that I still hold myself up to those same high standards and expect myself to participate in everything that I possibly can. But in the end, I have my limits and it’s been a challenge finding where they are. I also still expect my teachers to have personal investment in my academic success. As much as they are always there to help me if I ask, there’s no more hand holding and they’re not going to take it personally if I get a bad grade.
Of course plenty of this is simply how my own personality reacted to both the academic culture at the Academy and how I am still transitioning into that of the college. However, I know from talking to other people who went to ANC how much we feel a duty to do everything and to do it well.
That is why I think I have a heightened sense of FOMO after leaving high school. I dropped a class for the first time last term and that was only to add a different class I was more interested in. This term I dropped a class because my work load was too heavy. The ANC student in me said, “There’s no such thing as a too heavy workload, you’re just not working hard enough.” Thankfully the more balanced and sane part of me won out in the end and the wisdom in that decision shows in my grades, but part of me still cringes at the thought that I dropped that class. I felt like a quitter, like I had to explain the whole situation to the teacher so that he wouldn’t hate me forever. But that’s simply not true. I will have the chance to take that class again when I can actually fit it into my work load, and when that opportunity arises, I won’t miss it!