The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest



To bloom, first you must break
Photo illustration By Grace Rau

I stare at the math test in front of me, my eyes brimming with tears. 

The equations printed on the page look like nonsense. I don’t know the answers — and that’s never supposed to happen. 

But it’s happening. 

It’s real, too real, as every tick of the clock pushes me closer and closer to crying.

I naively pray my test will turn into something simpler if I stare at it long enough. Disappointingly — yet as anticipated — God does not turn my Honors Algebra 2 test into my sister’s kindergarten math worksheets. It’s too late for a miracle. If karma’s real, it’s finally come for me for all those years I never so much as glanced at my study guide.

I’m slipping, sliding, no longer at the very tip-top of my classes. I’m not satisfied. My test grades turn from A’s to B’s, and B’s mean I’m not good enough. 

For the first time in my life I’m stressing about school work. 

I’m sixteen and learning to study. 

And I feel a little like I’m falling apart.

But I try to pick up the pieces and hold in the emotions that run through my veins like molten gold. I’m still a good student, good daughter, good sister, good friend. 

At least, that’s what I tell myself as I smile and hope I mean it. 

I fiddle with the eraser of my pink mechanical pencil. I can’t focus, can’t look at the unanswerable questions any longer. 

Something’s going to break, I think. Deep inside I have a terrible, sinking feeling that it’s true. I could brush it off, but I know that wouldn’t be right. 

Something’s going to break. And it’s going to be me. 

But I don’t want to break. I want to bloom. 

I want to race and twirl through fields of wildflowers. I want to crash into piles of crisp autumn leaves and toss helicopter seeds high in the air, letting them flutter down around me. I want to turn my soul into sunlight, and to paint the world golden. 

But I’m trapped here with this test in front of me instead, tears threatening to overflow. My heart aches. 

Something’s going to break. And it’s going to be me. 

I’m growing up, whether I like it or not. And growing up means learning. 

Learning that, to bloom, first you must break. 

I got 52% on that math test — the lowest test grade I’ve ever received. I cried, but my parents told me that it wasn’t the end of the world. 

Yet I kind of felt like it was.

But it wasn’t

The next day, the sun still came up. I still went to school, and my future wasn’t shattered. I might not have felt okay, but I was. And I grew from it. I went to my teacher after class and asked for help. We talked through the assignment, and little by little I began to understand it better. 

So yes, I’ll break. 

But I’ll also bloom, growing from my trials and failures, coming into the person I was meant to be. I’ll break free and step out of this school in a cap and gown with my diploma in hand, four years older, wiser, and kinder than when I first stepped in. 

I’ll bloom, emerging from the pressure. 

Like a butterfl

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