Brainstorming while seeing the whole cookie

By Madeline Pena | Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013

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It seems like only moments ago when I curled up in bed with my mom and dad as they read me “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.” That crazy mouse never knew what he wanted. He started off by wanting a cookie, which led to a series of things the cookie reminded him of.

“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want milk. When you give him the milk, he’ll probably want a straw. When he’s finished he’ll probably ask for a napkin.” And so on.

Madeline Pena

Madeline Pena

Throughout my life, I’ve processed every thought like that mouse. You can look at me while conversing and never know that I not only understood your idea, but my brain also created an additional five.

The day I was named online editor-in-chief, I felt an overwhelming surge of ideas. These thoughts poured out onto my spiral notebook and carried through the rest of my upperclassmen years. They fueled me to push for something great. I became determined to make a reflection of what our staff was capable of. Together, we earned our first Silver Star award, ranking us among the top online publications in the state.

During my senior year, I wanted more. The summer before, I decided to brainstorm new ideas for our site. I found myself facing a blank page. Nothing! Where was my if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie brain?

All of a sudden, it turned on. However, my thoughts were not focused on newspaper.

“I can’t come up with ideas. What if I can’t come up with ideas for college and scholarship essays? What if I don’t get accepted to my dream school? I would be so sad. But if I did get accepted, then how would I pay for it? What if I don’t do well this year?” And the mental battle continued for another 30 minutes until tears streamed down my face.

This year, I met McKenna Waddill. She looks at the cookie, breaks it apart and analyzes it. Whenever I launched into my if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie rant, she would look me in the eye and say, “Madeline, just look at the problems you have now; don’t come up with new ones.”

I kept this thought in mind as I applied to colleges. As I filled out applications and essays, I didn’t complicate things. Instead, I just told them my story. (Thank you, McKenna.)

Thankfully, after years of hard work and lots of support, I’m attending my dream school. I am so excited to see what is in store at Texas Christian University, along with the rest of my life. There, I hope to apply both thinking skills.

Like every 2013 graduate, I’m beginning a new chapter. At the beginning of the year, I feared theses changes. Now, I’m embracing them.

Now I realize it’s OK to formulate multiple ideas. However, on some occasions, I have to take a step back and look at the whole cookie.

Madeline Pena is a senior graduating from Decatur High School. Columns by other Youth Spoken reporters Cristin Morgan and Paris Walther appear in the graduation special section inserted in today’s Messenger.

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