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Running head: LEMON SQUEEZY: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LINDSAY SNOWDEN 1

Lemon Squeezy: The Autobiography of Lindsay Snowden

Lindsay Snowden

OGL 482: Pro Seminar 2

Dave Thomas

July 8, 2018
LEMON SQUEEZY 2

Lemon Squeezy: The Autobiography of Lindsay Snowden

When I was six years old and graduating from a private kindergarten class, I had
it all figured out: when I grew up, I would get married to my friend Loc, have some kids,
and be a teacher. Life would be easy.

And then in fifth grade, I was asked what college I wanted to attend.

What even was college?

I can remember sitting in the back of a classroom in our open-style “pod” unit
feeling completely lost during a presentation about Texas A&M and the University of
Texas. I only know for certain now what it was about because of the color schemes that
were plastered on the overhead screen during the presentation: maroon and white and
burnt orange. While everyone around me already seemed sure that they were an Aggie
or a Longhorn, all I knew was that I was a 10-year-old red head who was excited about
choir practice that afternoon. I was not concerned with college at this point. Although, it
did make me feel uneasy not already having a plan in place… or even knowing that I
needed one. Maybe life wouldn’t be so easy after all.

In junior high, everything became more focused on my friend groups, passing


standardized tests, and musicals. I still wasn’t thinking about life-long goals, and my
parents weren’t really talking to me about them either. Then in high school, I found out
that everything we did in our childhood culminated here. I had not prepped myself for
the sense of disarray that would come from not being in gymnastics for 15 years and
perhaps now being a high school cheerleader; or being in dance since I was 3 and
perhaps now being on the high school dance team; or being in theater since 6 th grade
and perhaps now being on the school broadcast journalism team, or competing in
performing arts competitions. The only thing I had known since the beginning of time
was that I was going to be a teacher. And in high school, even that fell apart.

It was my junior year and I had space in my schedule for an extra-curricular


class. I chose Independent Study. This class sounded interesting to my 17-year old self
as I would have the opportunity to study and present a project based on my chosen
profession. Easy! I wanted to be a teacher. As I began to consider what I might present
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at the end of the year for my final culmination project, my mind drew a blank. A lot of
blanks, actually. What could I present to a panel of judges as a final project that proved
I had learned something about teaching? I came up with the idea of creating a
curriculum. I planned on visiting a nearby elementary school and becoming involved,
observing how to build a lesson plan and lead a classroom, choosing a subject to develop
my own curriculum around, learning what was required of a curriculum, how to build a
curriculum, what a curriculum was… it all started to sound pretty awful to my teenage
self. And like a lot of work. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I would be
responsible for the learning experiences of children… lots of children. And the more I
thought about it, the more complicated planning a curriculum sounded. And the more I
thought about it, the more I realized I did not want to be a teacher. Suddenly, life was
not very easy at all.

Our entire life, as is proven from my memory of my kindergarten graduation, we


are asked what we want to be when we grow up. From the time we can talk, we are
expected to have it all figured out. And though my dream of becoming a teacher carried
me most of the way through my school-aged years, I had no sense of purpose behind it.
In fact, in that kindergarten graduation when I said why I wanted to be a teacher, it was
so I could put kids in time out. I even drew a picture of me as a teacher putting a poor,
sad, stick-figure child in a chair in the corner (I knew it would make the adults giggle).
When it hit me my junior year of high school that I didn’t know what I wanted to be
when I grew up, where I wanted to go to college, or what I even wanted to do with my
life, I suddenly felt hopeless. Letting go of the steering wheel I had been clinging to as I
flew fastly and furiously down the road to becoming a teacher (with little direction for
that matter) had me emotionally flying and flipping and rolling down a dirt road where I
couldn’t see anything anymore. Who even was I? What was important to me? What
would bring value to my life?

For a short time after high school, I floated. I took a few classes at a community
college with my best friend, and skipped most of them for chips and queso at the tex-
mex restaurant next door. I was told that by taking classes at a community college I
would find something that clicked for me, and, again, would have it all figured out. Well,
being 31 years old and just finishing my bachelor’s degree this year will tell you that
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“figuring it out” is not what happened for me. What did happen for me was a move to
Minnesota. This move would be what propelled me into life. I finally found out what it
meant to live and began to learn life lessons, to bloom, and to climb out of the closed-up
flower that was my childhood.

Most of my childhood I felt lost. I felt out of the loop when the college recruiters
came to my elementary school. I felt out of the loop when I didn’t fit in to an
extracurricular group in high school. I felt out of the loop when my friends were
completing high school classes for college credit (you can do that?! ). And I definitely
felt out of the loop when my friends were filling out applications for college and
accepting offers from their prospective universities. I had no plan for my life and my
parents had made no effort to shove inside the loop and help me figure out what was
going on around me. So when I moved to Minnesota, I felt like I was escaping the
responsibility of knowing what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Not
surprisingly, I still felt out of the loop after moving to Minnesota…especially because
there was snow, and ice, and cold weather, and all of my sisters friends had already
graduated college and had were holding down adult-like jobs.

My sister is three years older than me. She moved out of our childhood home
when she was 18 and never came back. Somehow, she ended up in Minnesota with one
of our mutual childhood friends and threw me a line when a room opened up in their
house with 8 other girls. I clearly had no plans where I was at in Pasadena, Texas, and I
had been waiting for a push or a shove to move out of my parents’ house, so, Minnesota
it was. Because my sister is 3 years older than me, by the time I had graduated and
finished a semester of community college, most of her friends were moving on with their
adult lives owning cars, having jobs, and looking for houses to buy. Feeling more out of
the loop than ever, I began to learn about life from watching them. As a 19 year old, I
was finally piecing together what it would take to be an adult: go to college, get a job
with your degree, buy a car, buy a house, lure in some handsome educated man to
marry. Life was starting to look a little easier.

As I started to get on my feet from being a broke 19 year old who had no sense of
what it meant to save money for an event like moving across the country, I also started
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to look at options for school. This is when I learned what “out-of-state tuition” meant.
It’s also when I learned that I would not be attending any kind of school for my first year
of residence in Minnesota. Soon, that wouldn’t matter. Because in December of 2006
when my friend Shanna returned from a galivant across Europe and was telling us about
her adventure, she looked me dead in the eyes and asked if I would be interested in
becoming an au pair for a family in Poland. I still had no clue what I was doing with my
life. My roommates travelled to Europe (what seemed like) all the time (because they
were adults with real jobs), and my sister had just returned from a study abroad
program in France for her final semester at the Art Institute…so, sure! Why not?

Three days after my birthday in February of 2007 I was on a flight to Poland. I


was 20 years old, had no clue about life, and definitely had no clue about Poland (except
that it was a significant part of WWII and the Holocaust). Everyone on the flight was
speaking Polish, and before the plane even turned on the fasten seatbelt sign I was on
the phone with my mom crying about “what had I gotten myself into?!” Despite my
tears, fears and worries, the plane took off anyway. Many hours later I landed in Poland,
met the Irish family I would be living with and piled in the car with a strange woman, 3
children, and 2 suitcases to go grab a coffee. Just when I thought life was getting easier,
it got interesting instead.

I wouldn’t know it then, but living in Europe would teach me a lot about myself.
For example, it taught me how much I valued having friends (particularly friends that
spoke English). It also taught me how to navigate public transport (in another
language). It taught me how to raise children (because I was an Au Pair), how to be a
housewife (because I lived with the family and saw every aspect it), how to be brave, how
to have courage, how to speak another language, how to travel, how to make friends
with strangers as an adult (because I had no other choice), and that my passion could
become my career.

I learned the last one from the mother of the family I lived with. She had
graduated from college with a music degree, and boy, did she have a passion for it!
Music was an immense part of their family. She sang Irish ballads with her children,
played piano for them so they could dance, taught piano, and was even involved in the
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music program at the childcare center she worked at part-time. I had never seen
someone (outside of teachers in school) who was so passionate about something that it
drove their purpose in life. My mom had always had a desk job in a cubicle out of
necessity to provide for her family, and when she went to school online to get her degree
it was in something that she felt would make a decent income: paralegal work (she
wasn’t wrong). I was inspired by the mothers passion. What was I passionate about? I
had spent so long dragging the dead weight of wanting to be a teacher around without
ever really knowing why that I had never stopped to ask myself what I was passionate
about. However, though I felt inspired by her passion, it wouldn’t be for a couple of
years and chance job offer that I would realize my own.

When I moved back to Minnesota after 15 months of living in Europe, I went to


back to the same job I had before I left (nannying), and started attending a local
community college. Even though I was determined to get on with finding my passion
and making a living off it, I started to feel a shift in my sense of belonging in Minnesota.
After my sister got married and moved away, and my best friend got married and moved
away, I felt the pull to live closer to my family. So, I packed up everything I owned into a
tiny Mazda Protégé and moved to Colorado. At the age of 22, I was in a new place
without a home, without a degree, and without a job. Fortunately, a family from my
church at the time took me in. It was because of the mother of this family that I got a job
that would become my passion and my career for the next 11 years.

I remember sitting behind the very formal desk of cheerful, friendly woman who
commanded authority. She was pleasant, but also very much in charge. Still having a
sense of spunk in me, I wore a grey, high-waisted pencil skirt with black fishnet tights (a
fashion trend learned from the Irish mother in Poland), shiny black and white retro high
heels, and a black and white giraffe printed shirt with a collar and 3 buttons down the
front (later, my boss admitted that my sense of style was part of what prompted her to
hire me). I don’t remember much of the interview, except for her demeanor and
thinking that I would enjoy working for her. What I do remember was thinking I really
wanted this job, but had very little professional experience. I left her office that day with
not very much hope. I couldn’t even get a job at a children’s retail store. How would I get
a job here?
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But I did.

Initially I got hired on as an assistant. I was responsible for helping keep things
organized, cleaning up after messes, and running to make copies of things in the front
office. It sounds like an office job, doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t.

Before a full year was up at my workplace, an opportunity came around that


changed the course of my entire career for the next decade of my life. Someone had left
on maternity leave and was not interested in returning to their position. So, I inquired
about it. In the interview for the position I talked about my passion for this field of work.
I talked about how I enjoyed the department I was in, even though nobody else could
stick it out for more than a year. I talked about how I cared about the position and had a
vision for what kind of leader I could be. Fortunately, my boss saw potential in me and
she opened a door for me that I gladly, happily, and excitedly walked through.

I became the lead teacher of a two-year-old preschool classroom.

Yep, life had come full circle. I was a teacher. Totally coincidentally, and almost
what I feel like was beyond my control, I fulfilled the dreams of my six-year-old self.
Over the years, I had developed a passion for early childhood education. After living in
Poland and working with children that I saw were impacted by both their preschool and
what their mother taught them, I knew that early childhood education was the
foundation for a more successful experience in later education. For the first time, I felt
fulfilled in my work and in my life. I had found a passion that I was excited about and
given the opportunity without having a degree, and for the next eleven years I worked
happily and enthusiastically. I developed curriculums for my students; I conducted
conferences; I planned classroom events and parties; and I monitored social, emotional,
behavioral, and academic development. I had, what I felt like was, an adult job. I was
fulfilling my passion that had developed over the few short years of my adulthood, and I
was paying my bills.

Unfortunately, childcare began to take it’s toll on me around year seven. My


patience for the industry had started to dwindle, and so did my light for teaching. The
parents and conferences became overbearing; the planning became tedious; and the
work began to lose it’s meaning in the politics of corporate childcare. While my passion
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for early childhood education remained, I was ready for a change. The extra blessing
that came from a decade of throwing my heart and soul into early childhood education
was that I realized what my passion was in a more general sense: I wanted to help and
inspire others.

Perhaps it comes from feeling lost and misguided (or not guided at all) as a child,
or perhaps it comes from having emotionally detached, and uninvolved parents. Maybe
my deeply engrained sense of purpose for helping and inspiring others comes from
feeling disorganized, unsure, and lost for most of my own my life. Wherever it comes
from, and I think it comes from life entirely, it drives me to lift other up, to help them, to
encourage them, to teach them understanding, and to help them feel included. My
passion and my purpose has been built over three decades of not knowing what I want
for myself, and not knowing where I am or what I’m doing in life. And even though
sometimes I still feel like my 10-year-old self sitting in the back of a classroom confused,
lost, and thinking that life just got a little less easy, at least I know now what drives me
and fuels my passion for life: life ain’t easy, but if I can make it a little easier for
someone else, then I’ve fulfilled my purpose.