The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest



Juggling honors classes, extracurriculars, home life, college prep, and more-on a deadline
Illustration by Greta Grist

My hands reached for the fourth monkey bar–green and wet from the rain. In mid-air, I was confident. I knew I had reached it before.

“No, look, I can!” I had said.

And all of a sudden, every 3rd graders’ eyes were on me.

It was a game of pride. Everyone wanted to see who could skip the most monkey bars and still cross to the other side. It showed your capability, it showed you off. And three bars was the most anyone had ever skipped.

I was excited.

My tiny 8-year-old palm reached, latching on…

And I slipped. With a thud, my back hit the bottom of the playground. My tiny palms were scratched from the dirt and rubber chips.

I forced myself to stand, quickly, so the others couldn’t soak in my embarrassment.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” I wanted to say.

But I realized as I sucked in a breath to say it–

I couldn’t breathe.


I can’t breathe.

My eyes threatened me with tears in the middle of lunch. I wasn’t even eating because there was work to be done. Besides, they weren’t allowing food in the loft anymore.

I took my eyes off my to-do list for once and reached for my iPhone. My fingers scrolled until I found my dad on iMessage, grasping the idea that he of all people could do something to make the workflow stop.

It was Wednesday and I had three assignments due in my government class before the test on Friday. Stories were due for the Newspaper, there was overdue work in Latin 2, and I couldn’t even begin to think about IB English. I was currently working on an assignment for AP CSA, a coding activity that I was completely confused about and was due in less than an hour, the church’s social media which I manage has only posted once this week, and I love my family and my church but there’s just no time to hang out every other evening. But wait, that’s not even all of it–

I can’t breathe.

My dad called Mr. Cash, who, God bless his soul, did his best, but I forgot the passion behind my crying as I picked myself up to enter his office.

Lunch used to be my devotional time. A restoring 25 minutes full of prayer and Word and the loving presence of my Jesus. Yet recently, I’ve had difficulty remembering Him amidst my to-do list. Let alone eating lunch–No, there’s no time for that.


The stress became obvious after seeing blemishes left from stress pimples in my senior photos.

Not only the stress, but the long-term effects were hitting hard. My relationship with God became lackluster and distant, my anger was spilling over onto people I cared about, and I even missed two scholarship deadlines. Along with that, a greater chance of going to a four-year university.

“This is something you’ll learn as you get older,” my dad sat me down one Saturday. “You’re gonna have to make decisions that cost you. I could be in an amazing job right now, getting paid so much more, but I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time with you guys.”

His words settled in my stomach slowly, taking root… Until suddenly the weight of one more deadline was lifted from my shoulders. I decided not to attend the scholarship event. I still had just one week to plan my senior photos, and there was so much to be done, but at least I could breathe a little easier.

Not until I had gotten my priorities in order could I breathe.

But that wasn’t enough.

So I decided to give up the newspaper at the end of this semester.

Until then, the workload has not ended. Home life has become more busy with the holidays, but at least I’ve put my two weeks in. At least I have some breath to hang in there–somehow–until December 20.


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