Confession time: I am starting the rough draft of this essay on 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, with Law and Order: SVU playing in the background. Do I have any other plans for this lovely evening? No, I do not. I don’t have anything to do except hang out with Detective Olivia Benson and a carton of Ben and Jerry’s.
This is all just as well for me. I’m very much a homebody, and I love hanging out by myself or with a small group of friends. I’m pretty much the textbook definition of an introvert: there is nothing I like more than hanging out in my own head.
But sometimes, even though I’m perfectly content with what I’m doing at home, there is still a small, raw, gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that I could be doing something more, or that I am missing out on a life-changing moment by staying in on the weekends. This sense of FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, has plagued me my whole college career. You’d think that I would’ve gotten over this, now that I’m graduating in seven months, but nope. Every once in a while, I’ll get hit with this sense that by not going out every weekend, I’m somehow not being a “real” college student. I’ve seen the movies, after all: college means crazy adventures and frat parties. If I’m not having the time of my life, I’m doing it wrong, right?
The only problem is that I don’t necessarily like any of the things I’m supposedly missing out on. Sure, I love going out with my friends, and a crazy night is good every once in a while. But I don’t particularly like loud noises or large crowds, so I don’t know why I sometimes feel like I’m missing out because I’m not at a club or at a party. The whole point of cutting loose at places like this is to relax and release all the tension that builds up inside, and if I can do that just as well playing Cards Against Humanity with some friends or by watching some Netflix, then I don’t see why it makes a difference which activity I choose. Is it fun to go out on the town every once in a while? Of course. But the idea of having to go out and do that every weekend? That’s exhausting.
Nor do I believe the “college is the best four years of your life” spiel, any more than I believed the “high school is the best four years of your life” spiel when I was sixteen. I would hope that during the best years of my life, I wouldn’t be drowning in homework and constantly worried about money. I’m not sure yet what the greatest night of my life is going to be (if there is such a thing as a “greatest” night, which I’m not sure thereis), but I’m fairly confident that it’s not going to happen at a house party in Allston.
Of course, I probably could stand to break out of my comfort zone a little more than I currently do. The degree of my introversion can sometimes be a fault, in that it discourages me from taking chances that might do me good. There is a very small distinction between staying home because I want to stay home and staying home because I don’t want to go out. But that’s a distinction that I’ve tried to keep in mind when, as a self-confessed couch potato, I decide how to spend my time. This is a tough balance I’ve tried to achieve: on the one hand, I need to be willing to take more chances, but on the other hand, why should I do things I don’t want to do just to prove that I have a life to people who aren’t even part of it?
The point is, I’m still very young and I’m still trying to figure out who I am in this world as an adult. Some things about me are still changing as I get older, but there are some things that I’m pretty sure have stayed the same. One of those things is that when I make decisions, I want them to be for me and not for anyone else. If I want to stay home on a Friday night and watch Disney movies, then I’m going to do that, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks of my plans. Similarly, the decisions I’ve made to break out of my comfort zone–from going on an Alternative Spring Break trip to joining the cheerleading squad despite never having done cheerleading before in my life–are ones that I made for me on my own terms. And after I made those decisions and had those great adventures, I went back home, read a book and had a lovely night in. Having adventures is great, but so is taking some time to relax by myself.
So have pride, my fellow college home bodies. Don’t let Facebook or Twitter or Instagram tell you that staying home to watch television or do arts and crafts or whatever else your introverted little heart desires is an invalid choice for a Saturday night. Let’s order in some pizza, turn on a movie and rejoice in the fact that we don’t owe anyone an explanation for how we choose to spend our time.