As the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, many people have experienced a heightened sense of FOMO — the fear of missing out. Years of isolation, quarantines, shutdowns and travel bans have contributed to feelings of loneliness, frustration and depression among students and other locals.

Sami LaCicero, a sophomore, was looking forward to Greek Sing, a Greek life singing and dancing competition, this semester. The event was canceled this year and last in response to COVID-19 outbreaks.

LaCicero felt frustrated with the 2022 cancellation because the UofA has maskless in-person classes and sporting events, she said.

“There’s such a double standard because only some things are getting canceled and not others,” LaCicero said. “I think it's unfair to be in in-person classes, still having all the events we have in person, and then they cancel (other events) whenever we could’ve taken precautions sooner.”

Caroline Tuggle, a sophomore, planned to attend the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Florida, with the Razorback Marching Band, but she tested positive for COVID-19 the day before the buses left. Tuggle felt isolated, lonely, angry and upset, she said.

“I felt left out for something that was out of my control,” Tuggle said. “It felt very isolating to just be sitting in my room, not being able to leave, with all of my friends in Florida having this amazing experience.”

Tuggle was glad she stayed home and protected her friends from getting sick, but missing out on the game was disappointing, she said.

Dave Jones, 49, of West Fork, planned to take a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, with his family in September 2021, but canceled it when a spike in COVID-19 cases forced shutdowns across the country.

“We were extremely disappointed,” Jones said. “To have a bucket list trip canceled on us was depressing.”

Event cancellations have not made LaCicero feel any safer, she said.

“It just kind of feels like an excuse that they’re canceling things,” LaCicero said. “If we were to completely shut down, I would feel better. But since we’re not, I just feel like it was pointless.”

Tuggle thinks many people see themselves as invincible and are sure contracting COVID-19 will not hurt them, so they just do what they want to do without taking any precautions, she said.

“It's very frustrating and annoying,” Tuggle said. “It makes you think ‘Well, I’m doing the right thing and I’m missing out on these experiences, but (other) people just don’t care and they’re still getting to do the things I wanted to do.’”

As for future events, there is still some uncertainty.

Tuggle is planning to attend the Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament in Tampa with the Hog Wild band starting March 11. Event cancellations or having to isolate after COVID-19 exposure is an ongoing fear for herself and others, and Tuggle would be disheartened if she could not go to the tournament, she said.

LaCicero plans to attend two Greek Life formals this semester and is hoping they do not get canceled.

“I’m just frustrated with the way everything is handled,” LaCicero said. “Frustrated that it keeps happening over and over.”

The most important thing to Jones is his 10-year-old son, Tristan. He and his wife, Kimberly, would never want to put Tristan’s education or classmates at risk by exposing him to COVID-19, Jones said.

The Joneses have rescheduled their trip to Iceland for this September and plan to go to Colorado in April. Jones and his family used to travel frequently every year and having to cancel their upcoming vacations would be heartbreaking, he said. Jones and his family have not left West Fork in more than a year.

“We’re trying to expose (Tristan) to as much as we can as far as culture and education,” Jones said. “But (COVID-19) has really put a damper on our travels.”

With cases decreasing to numbers not seen since before the outbreak of the delta variant last year, LaCicero, Jones and Tuggle are ready to get back to normal.

Tuggle said she finds comfort in knowing she can control the situations she puts herself in. She attends all of her obligations, but is still restricting herself from hanging out in large groups of people.

“As much as I can, as much as we’re able to at this point in time, I think I am ready to get back out there, but I’m definitely still going to be really careful,” Tuggle said.

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