Monday, September 7, 2009

in case you forgot, i am a nerd.

the other day, i was reading my mom's copy of Real Simple magazine. i have realized that this magazine is pretty big on gathering comments or thoughts from their readers. i noticed an invitation to submit entries to their second annual life lesson essay contest. this year's prompt was, "when did i know i was a grown-up". about a week before, we had been in lake powell and i had one of my most defining moments.

i decided to write an essay and submit it! i looked up the rules, the due date, etc. and started writing.

and then school preparations began and i forgot.
until yesterday! yes, you heard that correct, yesterday, september 6th. i remembered that the essay was due on september 7th by 11:59 pm eastern time!!

so i started writing again. i had mom and becca read it and they felt it was a little heavy on the Church thing (shocker. it is my entire life and framework. but back to the writer's chair). except, i didn't re-write anything. i figured it was a nice thought and i would just re-write it and send it to the Ensign someday.

today, as we were at IHOP (first snyder family breakfast. some of us went without brushing out teeth. some of us had holes in our pants. all of us went looking far less than ideal!), i asked mom and becca if i could do the essay without mentioning the Church. becca felt like i totally good.

but even then, i wasn't thinking i would.

fast forward to 9:18 pm. i was gathering my things and heading over to the apartment to go to bed and mom asked if i was going to submit the essay. i said no - and felt like tearing up. i had been excited about just doing it. mom made me promise that i would write it for the Ensign.

but, at 9:25 pm, as i was washing my face, i figured, "why not??" why not hurry and fix it and just send it? then i would never regret it!

so i did!! i sent it in just moments ago. i'm SURE i won't win. last year's winner is a published author!! hahaha, i sooo am not. but, here it is if you are interested. someday it WILL be in the Ensign. i have made a little promise to myself that i will expound on the spiritual level and share more and work it and re-work it until it is accepted. :) until then, here ya go:

The Rock

Our Culture is our World. Correct? Whether it is a small city in Juneau, Alaska or the African tribe just outside of Accra, Ghana or a neighborhood in Alpine, Utah the culture created among that community is our world. It is our reality.

And I think it safe to say that each Culture has it’s own definition and ideal of what Success looks like. This definition includes what Normal looks like, what Failure looks like, and even what Weird looks like.

The moment I realized I had grown-up was the day I realized that these Cultural definitions were wrong and rather messed up. Or more specifically, these definitions were broader than I had ever anticipated.

To understand, let me explain my culture, I mean my world. But, in doing so, I hope you are simply reflecting on your own culture and world. I am guessing that mine and yours are strikingly similar.

My mom is the ideal mother. She LOVES her role as wife and mom. We are her number one priority and have never doubted this. I am have been raised believing that being a mother is the most important job I could have. I would sing, “When I grow up, I want to be a mother, have a family. One little, two little, three little babies of my own . . .” As I grew and was encouraged to decide for myself what my personal beliefs were, I continued, yet more deeply, believed in the sacred role of a mother. This is what I wanted to be more than anything.

Somehow the Mormon’s strong dedication and priority of family created a cultural expectation to marry young. Early twenties young.

Problem. I was turning 31 this year and was still single. Major problem!

Entering the Thirties is a traumatic time for many women. And like most women, I began having mental and emotion crisis / analysis.

I began really looking at myself. My goals. My achievements. My adventures. My education. My relationships. At 30, my parents were living in Hong Kong. My mom was raising 3 kids in a foreign country when she was 31! What in the world had I done?? I was thinking too much. I was writing too much. I was asking too much. I was driving my family crazy!

I was making lists of who I am:

· Lived in Russia and Europe on my own.

· Taught 6th grade at a “inner-city”, low-income elementary school

· Secretary for a 5 million member organization

· Assisted to write curriculum for a 13 million member organization

· Cancer survivor

· Accepted to Columbia’s top ranked Teacher’s College with a scholarship

· blah, blah, blah

And then, on Wednesday, July 29th, I grew up.

As a family, we were spending some time at a lake. There are plenty of pondering moments when my family is at the lake. I was looking at a large impressive rock wall. And I was in awe. I was fascinated with the millions of years it took to form this massive creation. It was beautiful. It provided shelter for early Anasazi inhabitants. Wow.

How many years did it take the winds and the rains to mold and smooth a place for this family to find shelter? How many thunderstorms had this piece of land endured? Who were these people for whom it was worth this rock’s molding?

And then, I was mentally and emotionally smacked up side the head. In the midst of my questioning, I got it.

It hit me, like a ton of bricks (no pun intended!) that I – Emily Snyder - was more impressive than the rock! I was more Successful than the rock! I had loved and influenced more people than the rock. I had dreamed more dreams than the rock. I had added more to the world, not just mine, but to the big, wide World than the rock.

It finally didn’t matter that I didn’t have a man by my side. It finally didn’t matter that I didn’t have four children like the rest of my friends. I suddenly realized that the definition of Success found in my culture just might be a little messed up. I basked in the realizations that I was not a Failure! I was not a Reject! It was okay to be me. And no matter what that was, was a Success. Ah. The sweet peace and comfort I had anxiously been seeking finally wrapped around me and protected me. My shoulders seemed to relax. I felt serenity like never before. I was just who I was suppose to be. I too was being molded and smoothed by the winds and rains of life, but I was doing just fine. There was and is no race as to when I need to be readied. There is no due date to find Success or be Success. I just get to enjoy me. I was so relieved, I spent the entire day on the lake without – yes, I said without – my board shorts on!! I embraced even my thighs!

There is more.

It wasn’t until later that evening, the evening of July 29th, while pondering and recording in my journal my ah-ha’s that my growing up was solidified.

While in the quiet stillness of the night and the calm of my mind I realized that my Culture had never once been my enemy. No one in my world thought be weird or out casted or a failure. That Culture was in my head. As was the Cultural definition.

I had just identified and fought and then triumphantly won the battle within myself.

Finally, I was a grown-up.


Brian, Emily, & Charlie said...

em, I LOVE this! You are truly and amazing woman. Truly. I miss you! thank you so much for setting such a wonderful example for me, in everything you do:)

Brooke said...

Beautiful Em! I loved reading it...I hope you do win!

Anie said...

LOVE it Em! You're AMAZING- this should definitely be a published piece of work!!

shauna said...

What a wonderful essay. It brought tears to my eyes. I love it Em, and I love you too!

Heather said...

Wonderful writing! It's all very true, true, true! Go for the Ensign too!

Life, Love and a Lil Sauce said...

Brilliant! I love when you share your thoughts ...

Long Family said...

Thanks for definitely have a gift!
I will look forward to seeing it in the Ensign someday!

and, thanks for the classroom pictures-so organized-so perfect! I can't wait for jr. high updates. They are going to LOVE you!

Tim and Melissa said...

Hi Emily, I snooped onto your blog today and LOVED reading your essay. You are an amazing person...just like your amazing sister that I definitely consider one of my absolute best friends. I hope it gets published! By the's been a while since we've seen you in TX. Come pay a visit!!