The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 28th

Column: Letting go and defeating Sno-MO


Henry Gargan is the Opinion Editor. He is a senior journalism and global studies major from Chapel Hill.

It’s been a tough week for me. No, I don’t want your pity — really. It’s fine. Hear me out.

On Monday, I lost my wallet. Convinced that it was lost for good, I went ahead and dropped $20 on a new One Card and driver’s license. A few hours later, I found the wallet hiding on my desk at work.

On Tuesday, I got into a minor car accident in the snow on the way to my 8 a.m. To Liberty Mutual Insurance, I’d like to stress just how minor this was. But to you, readers, I’d like you to imagine a terrifying event, one for which Chancellor Folt, and Chancellor Folt alone, deserves the blame.

Finally, on Wednesday night, as snow fell, I ended up staying at a friend’s house into the early morning. I was offered the couch, but I decided to walk home anyway. Thirty minutes of walking later, close to 3 a.m., I arrived home with a nearly-dead phone battery to find we had no electricity. Lovely.

Now it’s Thursday morning. The power’s on, at least, but I’m still in bed, afraid of what might befall me should I venture out, but perhaps even more afraid of what will happen if I don’t.

I suffer from no small amount of snow anxiety, or Sno-MO, which I’ve defined as the fear that all your friends are out sledding, making snowmen and being jolly while you watch Netflix and grump around the house waiting for it all to melt.

This feeling has its roots in my natural tendency toward the Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO, but also in the way that snow takes away the structured parts of life that many people, myself included, rely upon for continued validation and security.

On a snow day, our social structures break down. Proximity takes on a distressing importance, just as it did in your neighborhood as a kid. And out where I live, in deepest Carrboro, it’s easy to feel a little isolated.

Without classes to go to or the opportunity to prove myself by picking up heavy things at the SRC, it’s hard to figure out how I’ll derive my value in this new polar paradigm. I’m able to entertain myself for a while, but my mind always wanders to all of the productive things I’ve been putting off that I really should be using this day to do.

For a long time, my model for happiness has been to figure out the circumstances, people and activities that make me the happiest and immerse myself in them as often as possible.

But snow days hint at the need to cultivate a form of contentment less dependent on the ability to control my surroundings. By stripping me of those comforting arrangements by which I define my well-being, they test my ability to live with, rather than in spite of, myself.

It’s an ability that might teach me the patience to look a little harder for my wallet (or learn to go a day without it), to stay off the roads even if it means missing class, and to understand that my personal safety might be worth more than the predictable security of sleeping in my own bed.

If this snow day has taught me anything, it’s that I need to learn to let go. Maybe that’s what Elsa was singing about.


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