An Open Letter to Myself: Reflections on FOMO

Jay Subramaniam, Class of 2015

Jay Subramaniam, Class of 2015

By Jay Subramaniam '15

FOMO is comprised of: 1) fear and 2) missing out.

Let’s talk about that second one. There are so many things to do during the Chicago Booth experience. Even if I wanted to participate in everything available to me, I couldn’t. Classes, corporate conversations, guest speakers, group meetings and off-campus recruiting will all conflict with one another on my calendar. Like most, every weekend, I usually have multiple social gatherings and parties at my disposal. At work or my internship, there are only so many projects I can take on before my priorities start to compete with one another as well. Invariably, I have to make difficult choices and prioritize. Missing out is just a part of life.

Why should I fear something that is a normal part of everyday decision-making? Maybe I want to maximize the so-called “b-school experience.” If this time is anything less than “the best two years of my life,” I won’t meet my ‘happiness return on investment’ expectations. Maybe I seek a sense of belonging with the peers who I respect personally and professionally. The less I hang out with them, the less I feel like a part of the group. Maybe I fear not being able to tell a story to my peers about my amazing summer travel experiences. Maybe I compare myself to others every time I scroll down that Facebook News Feed and see who is doing more and having a better time than me.

Or maybe I’m just making excuses. These two years will not be the peak of my life; the best is yet to come. I don’t need to be at every hangout. True friends will be there. I don’t need to travel every chance I get just for the social capital. And about Facebook, there’s always the News Feed Eradicator (Google Chrome Extension). The only comparison I need to understand is who I was before and who I want to become tomorrow.

These are things that I should fear missing out on: using this degree to pivot my career, which will be harder to do post-MBA; relishing my last chance as a student and building a relationship with a professor; starting a business with a classmate in a high-resource, low-risk environment; using unscheduled blocks of time to become an enhanced version of myself before my hours are governed by firm utilization requirements; and maturing into a better person for my loved ones.

Now in my second-year, I fear leaving The University of Chicago without taking advantage of these opportunities, which are here for a limited time only while student loans last. As busy as I think I am, I can make the time to concentrate on what truly matters. I need to choose the pain of discipline or I might suffer the pain of regret. With one year left, I can still seize the opportunity of a lifetime in the lifetime of the opportunity.

Focus over FOMO.


Jay Subramaniam is a full-time, second-year student at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and serves as co-chair for Christians in Business.