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The Cube This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I had spent the past four hours sitting on the green leather couch in my living room. The screen of my laptop had me mesmerized. Nothing else in the world seemed to matter. Although my eyes felt heavy and sweat was beginning to form on my forehead, I could not stop.

“Danielle, it's late. Go to bed!”

“C'mon, Danielle, you can come back to it in the morning.”

I ignored my parents' pleas. I would not let anyone or anything get in the way of my task. Little had I known how challenging this undertaking would be.

The YouTube videos instructed me to start with the green cross, so I did. Then I moved on to correctly complete the first side. As I repeatedly messed up and had to restart many times, I was positive that if I was a normal person I'd have been banging my head against the wall. Instead I just took a deep breath and powered through.

Slowly the middle layer began to line up. I jotted down the algorithms to ensure I would not forget what to do next time, even though I had watched the videos so many times that I felt like I could quote them word for word. Again, a wrong turn set me back five steps, but I was not ready to give up.

The last layer was the most complicated. I checked twice before each move. My heart began to race. The pieces were all jumbled, but I was imitating the video instructions exactly. Four hours later, everything clicked into place. I had solved the Rubik's Cube!

The Rubik's Cube used to be a mysterious puzzle that I had only heard stories of people completing. Then, about a year ago, I saw an assortment of cubes at my friend's house. There were triangular, two-by-two, and seven-by-seven cubes. When I asked him about them, he picked up a three-by-three cube and solved it right before my eyes. I was awestruck. Someone could actually do it! Right then I decided that I, too, was going to conquer the Cube.

After that first night of sitting on my couch cross-legged for hours, I was rarely without a Rubik's Cube twisting and turning in my hands. I memorized the many complicated steps, slowly weaning myself from my notes and decreasing my completion times. Now it only takes me a little over two minutes. I can even create patterns, like flowers and checkerboards.

The same persistence and determination that I demonstrated with the Cube applies to my academic and extracurricular life as well. Last year, I took physics and struggled to succeed on tests and the engineering-like projects. One term, I received one of my worst test grades ever. Then something inside me clicked. I decided to get help from my teacher and a tutor. I was determined to succeed – and ultimately, my final grade reflected that.

Perseverance has also helped me in extracurricular activities. My school has a program called Peer Education in which a select group of upperclassmen help to positively influence students. I applied my junior year but was not selected. Disappointed, I asked what I could do to improve my chances next time. I was told I needed more leadership experience. After adding experience as a camp counselor, soccer referee, and basketball coach, I entered this year's application process with newfound confidence and achieved my goal of becoming a Peer Educator.

With that last click of the Rubik's Cube, I had changed my life forever. I know I can do anything I set my mind to, and I will not stop until I succeed. My bucket list is one step closer to being completed, and that mysterious puzzle is not so puzzling anymore.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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