Self-Esteem: Who Needs It?

Self-Esteem: Who Needs It?

Are You a Snail in Tune with Your Female Side Who Has Low Self-Esteem? Find Help Here! 

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Syndy Snail. I am a counselor working in El Verde, within El Yunque Forest. In the past couple of months, I have heard some disturbing comments from the young snails. This is particularly true of the ones in tune with their female side (remember, we are all hermaphroditic). They think they are ugly, fat, and slow. They say their body parts are bizarre. Snails with low self-esteem tend to spend most of their time within their shells. It has been brought to my attention that they are comparing themselves—quite unfairly—to the svelte walking stick population in the forest. I must respond.

There are many reasons why we should be proud to be snails. 

Here are just a few of them:

1. We are mollusks, soft-bodied animals that usually have an outer or inner shell. We also have a fluid-filled body cavity. We were one of the first animals to have a cavity. Before you sarcastically say "big deal," let me tell you something. This cavity protects our more complex internal organs. It was a very important development in the evolution of animals. On the evolutionary scale, we are more advanced than such animals as jellyfish and flatworms. We are not as advanced as sea stars, lobsters, insects, and, of course, vertebrates (animals with a spinal column).
So let’s be proud of our body cavity!

2. With around 110,000 species, mollusks make up the second largest animal group. Only insects have more species. Mollusks are abundant in the ocean, in freshwater, and on land. There are seven major subgroups of mollusks. Ours is the gastropod. It consists of snails, slugs, and whelks. We’re easily the largest subgroup. We have some 80,000 different species!
So let’s be proud to be gastropods!

3. Our shell serves as a skeleton to protect our soft body. It is made of protein that is hardened by calcium carbonate, an extremely hard mineral. Not only are these shells great protection, they have also caught the fancy of humans. The humans admire our shells’ spiral shapes and consider them "homes to go." Over long periods of time, our shells can also take on the color of our surroundings. For example, we C. caracolla snails have a smooth, dark brown shell that blends well with our shady habitat. That is the place where we live. Other snails that live in sunnier lowland regions have light-colored shells. These reflect the sunlight off the shells and prevent overheating. We call this adapting to our surroundings.
So let’s be proud of our shells!

Spiraling Beauty
I am an art student. I think our most attractive feature is the spiral pattern on our shells. One rainy day in the forest, when I had nothing else to do, I looked up “spiral” in the encyclopedia, and this is what I found: A spiral is a flat curve that, in general, unwinds around a point while it moves farther from that point. The ancient Greeks first described spirals. They saw them in nature and went on to use these patterns in architecture. The spiral pattern that we snails wear (with pride) is called the equiangular spiral. In a way, it is similar to a circle. A circle intersects its own radii (the lines that connect the center of the circle with its outer boundary) everywhere at 90 degrees. The equiangular spiral intersects its own radii everywhere at the same angle, but that angle is never 90 degrees. This pattern is seen in spider webs, in the chambered Nautilus (a fellow mollusk), and in some flowers.

4. We exhibit a pleasing symmetry. Symmetry is an arrangement of body parts that are the same on each side of a dividing line. All animals more advanced than us have this body symmetry, but we were among the first!
So let’s be proud of our body symmetry!

5. Sticking out of our soft body is a muscular foot. The foot moves us along. In land snails the base of the foot secretes mucus. It forms a slimy path that makes it easier for us to move. Now we understand humans are somewhat (OK, very) disgusted by the slimy mucus, but without it and the protruding foot, we could not get around.
So let’s be proud of our foot and mucus!

6. Our mouth begins near the foot and has a tongue-like extension. It has thousands of pointed, backward-curving teeth arranged in rows. When we feed, we push it out of our mouth. The teeth act like a nail file to scrape bits of food off rocks or plant matter. Without these many teeth, we would starve. 
So let’s be proud of our thousands of teeth!

7. A pair of tentacles sticks out of our head. At the tips are tiny eyes. This, of course, is how we see.
So let’s be proud of our eyes at the tips of our tentacles! 

As you can see, we have the perfect body for our needs! Three cheers for our bodies: 

Hip-hip-hooray, hip-hip-hooray, hip-hip-hooray!

If you or someone you love is having problems with self-esteem, I will be happy to arrange an appointment for an Up with Snails seminar.