In the sixth grade, I was self-diagnosed with a serious case of FOMO -- fear of missing out. I have a petrifying fear of being late, I hate missing the morning news, and I am attracted to crowds like a moth to the flame because I absolutely must know what everyone is looking at. It's a fear of missing out, but it's also a thirst for being included. Not in the playground sense of being chosen for the kickball team, but in the larger sense of being a part of the world around me rather than sitting on the sidelines watching it happen. Most people like to watch the news from the comfort of their homes, but I have always wanted to be the one in the middle of the scene, holding the microphone.
On my first day of college, I moved into a dorm two blocks away from the White House, and I felt a sudden rush of exhilaration knowing that I had four years ahead of me in the center of the action. I felt that exhilaration again when I ran to the White House to join hundreds of students when we heard the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. I feel it every time there is a protest or a rally outside my window. And I felt it, most of all, on the day of the fifty-seventh presidential Inauguration.
I woke up at 4:00 a.m., when some college students were just going to bed. Overnight, the campus of GW had been turned into an Inauguration wonderland. An eerie calm had settled over the city, and as I made my way to the newsroom on Capitol Hill where I am interning this semester, I passed more police than most people will see in a lifetime. It is a commute that I have made many times in my four years of college, but seeing the sunrise behind the capitol as I prepared to witness history is not something I have ever experienced before.
At 7:00 a.m., when daylight graced the district, I was able to go out into the crowd with a producer and interview people who had traveled from across the country to see this historic event. We braved the crowds, and the cold, to talk to people about what this event meant to them and why they made the journey to DC.
While hundreds of thousands of people watched President Obama's speech from the steps of the capitol, I listened to it from inside the newsroom and kept track of what he said and when he said it. It wasn't until I heard loud cannons outside the window, and then two seconds later on television, that I truly realized how close I was to the action.
Towards the end of the day, I found myself on the roof of a building, surrounded by television crews and network reporters all talking into a camera about Obama's mention of climate change in his speech, the challenges that lay ahead for our nation, and even Michelle Obama's new bangs. Standing on that roof, looking down on a sea of people, was the most included I have ever felt. A wave of exhilaration washed over me, and I was star struck. Not by Beyonce and Jay Z, or even Michelle and Barack, but rather by the grandeur that was in front of me. I felt like an integral part of something that was much greater than myself. It was as if the melting pot of this country had appeared before my eyes, and for just one day, political parties seemed trivial in the face of patriotism. To be able to witness, and cover, that grandeur was a truly humbling experience.
I wasn't the only student that felt lucky enough to be in the capital city for the inauguration. As part of mtvU's "Campus Dispatch" series, I chatted with some other college students about being a part of the inauguration -- from those who were excited just to experience it, to one young person that actually served as DJ for one of the inaugural balls. Be sure to check out what they had to say in the video below.
If my experience covering the Inauguration and talking with other students has taught me anything, it is that FOMO is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, that fear of missing out is what makes those moments of national inclusion so remarkable.