Sprouting anew

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Lucia Rivera

Bell pepper sprouts growing in senior Lucia Rivera’s backyard reminded her of the beauty of gardening. They also reminded her of the competing potential of one’s options in life.

“WE HAVE 22 SPROUTS,” I exuberantly messaged from my backyard.

In front of me sat one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen recently: tiny, perfect bell pepper plants sprouting from the rich, brown soil in our homemade planter box. That was on Monday; by Tuesday we had 64 sprouts, and they just kept coming. 

After carefully collecting bell pepper seeds, as I consumed the fruit daily, I was thrilled by the sight of these new baby sprouts. Gardening isn’t new for me and my siblings, but the magic of it never seems to dissipate. As I grappled with the chaotic turmoil of college decisions, the new life growing was the highlight of my day.

This time however, I was extra excited. Prior to the first signs of green, I was cautiously optimistic that anything would sprout. I didn’t exactly follow the directions on the internet: source seeds from organic peppers, plant them indoors first, set them in rows… In short, I wanted to leave myself ready to bear disappointment, something I hadn’t done so well recently as I navigated my college decisions.

But now, I had so many sprouts! Thanks to my siblings’ and my haphazard seed placement they were scattered all over the planter box, many growing together in clumps of light green. I was reminded of my college decisions once again as I thought about having to spread out the plants so that only one of the group remained where it sprouted. 

It feels like declining one is declining a lifetime of opportunities and connections that would shape me into a new, stronger person.”

— Lucia Rivera

If I left them all right next to each other, their collective growth would be stunted. Fighting for water and nutrients would prevent any of them from reaching their full potential. Yet, all of them had potential to grow into strong, fruitful bell pepper plants. 

Similarly, as I try to pick the place to spend my next four years, I struggle knowing that all of my options have great potential. It feels like declining one is declining a lifetime of opportunities and connections that would shape me into a new, stronger person. At the end of the day, though, I know I have one week to commit to a single option. A series of options at crossroads in life are like a group of baby sprouts clamoring for sun and water. Only one path can be followed only one sprout can stay and thrive.

As every day passes, I get closer to graduating from high school and heading to college. At a smaller level, the bell pepper sprouts reach taller every day too. Their leaves spread and their stems stretch. I know that I too will spread and stretch myself over the next four years, but only if I adopt the right mindset. 

Even seeds planted in doubt can grow into sprouts. This proved true this month right in my backyard. And these sprouts, if carefully fed and nurtured, can produce more than we ever thought possible. Instead of wilting in uncertainty when faced with options, I should commit gracefully, excited by the growth ahead of me.