Now that FOMO’s gone, here’s what we’re missing

By EDITORIAL BOARD

College is often characterized as “the best four years of your life.” In many ways, the undergraduate experience represents an extended attempt to make that dream a reality: choosing who to be friends with, what extracurriculars to join and which subject to major in are all informed by the ideal image of “Middlebury College” we have in our heads. Of course, that narrative is not only far too reductive, but often interferes with our ability to enjoy the college experience. Now, far away from campus during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to take a step back — an opportunity previously only available to alumni — and reflect on how we spend our time at Middlebury. 

In reality, college is much different than the dreamed-up utopias propagated by popular culture. Our current situation has only introduced more distance between that dream and reality: Physically separated from Middlebury and its consequent FOMO culture, we find ourselves focusing on the things we might have taken for granted while we were still on campus. We miss walking out of Axinn after what should have been a 20-minute check-in with a professor, but which turned into an hour-long conversation on maple creemees. We miss our study buddies, Proc crushes and hallmates. We miss the feeling of a 12-person seminar and the relationships that are built in such a small setting. The further we get from College Street, the more these experiences seem to take on a new significance. 

At the same time, some of the things we agonized about at the time don’t seem so important. We’d be willing to bet, for instance, you aren’t yearning for sweaty nights in Atwater. The stresses of figuring out who to sit with at Ross, what to wear to that ’80’s-themed party, and whether the question you ask in class might make you seem unintelligent have all fallen by the wayside. What remains are fond memories of spontaneous conversations in Wilson cafe, impromptu movie nights with friends and cooking extravaganzas (read: disasters) in the Battell kitchen. We wish we had more fully embraced the experiences actually offered by Middlebury, rather than spent so much time pursuing the ideal visions we previously helpd of what we were supposed to do.

If nothing else, lockdown has shown us is that no one really has it all figured out. When we return to campus, rather than worry whether or not our time at Middlebury is what is “should” be, we should appreciate our undergrad for what it is. As cliché as that sounds, it’s easy to stress over whether or not we are doing college “right.” (Will I be invited to that off-campus party? Am I taking the classes I should be? Should I go to KDR or Tav tonight? Am I finding my people?). Yet, as the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us, even the best laid plans can be disrupted — and so maybe weren’t worth stressing so much about in the first place.

This editorial represents the opinions of the Middlebury Campus’s editorial board.