This I Believe

Michael - Northlake, Illinois
Entered on January 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Trees and Flowers

One of my most important lessons learned in life was not taught to me by a teacher, I had to figure it out on my own. I learned to always consider the idea that paper is a product of trees and at one point in time ink was made from plants and flowers.

During my junior year of high school, I fell behind in my classes, especially in math. With the ACT and the constant buzz about college, I became sick of the school I had once loved. It just seemed like every question on the ACT and all the assignments that I did or did not turn in were directly dictating the rest of my life. If I turned an essay in late or missed a math assignment, that was one more college rejection letter in my mind.

About halfway through the year I started to skip school because I was afraid that I was going to fail a test. Skipping school because you haven’t learned what you were supposed to is like being trapped in a burning building and trying to put out the fire with gasoline. It is tragic procrastination.

When I finally ran out of sick days, I had to face the math test that I had been avoiding. I did not know how to do a single problem on the eight-page test. I was so far behind that I couldn’t even guess how to do the problems.

I had never experienced that kind of deep resonating stupidity that hurts from the inside out. I wanted to rip up the test and run out of the room. I was just sitting there staring at the problems on my desk, asking myself over and over in my head, “What is this? What is this?” Then I realized that this torture of a test was nothing more than four pieces of paper with some ink on them and a thin metal staple in the corner. “How could paper be making me so miserable?” I asked myself. “After all it is only a part of a tree, and the ink is probably made from plants and flowers.” Trees and flowers are natural beauties of nature in my mind, so this impossible piece of matter in front of me was nothing more than a unique reordering of the forest preserve that I used to play in when I was little.

With that realization I felt better, but I was still afraid that the test might hurt me somehow. I had to make sure that I could exert more on it force than it could exert on me, so I tore a little rip on all the corners. I ripped the test; the test didn’t rip me. I had won.

I am no longer afraid of tests, applications, or grades because I know that they are all, in essence, just the trees, plants, and flowers that I used to play in as a child—and those can never really hurt me.