February 1, 2023

The French phrase, “La crème de la crème” in its loose translation is “The cream of the cream” which then inspired the idiom “Cream of the crop.” What is your impression of this idiom? I often feel mentally drained and pressured when I hear this phrase because by definition, “Cream of the crop” is the best in a particular group. In junior high, my teachers frequently defined the idiom as “the best of the best.” “The best of the best is a phrase that also repeatedly described the naval aviators in Tony Scott’s “Top Gun” and “Top Gun Maverick.”
As a former student of Baguio City National Science High School (BCNSHS), hearing teachers say, “Remember that you should excel because you are in the cream of the crop” and to “Study well because ‘iskolar kayo ng bayan’” is customary. They often express their dismay in this matter. It is extremely burdensome to hear them reiterate those sentences like a broken record and exceedingly put pressure on us as students. I have deduced four years ago that being a student in BCNSHS is not for the faint-hearted. As I went to higher grades my classmates began to dwindle. I was surprised at first but as time passed by I was accustomed to it. There were times that things were too hard to handle, especially when pressure came from numerous directions. I often cried silently in my room. There was a time I got a 96 in a particular subject. I went home and proudly told my parents of the grade I got as I knew getting a grade of 96 in school was difficult. My happiness waned when my mother asked why I only got 96 and not higher. Will it come to you as a shock if I say I cried in my room again?
I understand that working adults also feel this way when they don’t meet their boss’ ridiculous expectations. This leads me to another conclusion that I will be my own boss in the near future to set my own expectations. I will strive to be an independent woman, an empowered one that empowers those around her. But do you know what I find funny? Not once did I think of transferring schools as an option to get by. Even when I was too fed up, I never considered giving up.
When we’re tired, we should learn to rest and not to give up. As for me, I got used to our teachers’ constant nagging and my parents’ dismay. For me, I have progressed in multiple aspects not only as a student but as an individual. I was able to toughen up mentally and physically. The number of tasks that I am able to accomplish soared compared to when I was first admitted to BCNSHS. My ability to effectively and efficiently manage multiple responsibilities simultaneously while maintaining the quality of work has been cultivated further.
Some say “If you put too much pressure on a pencil, it’ll end up breaking.” This is true in some cases. We all have complications in life and for pressure to be added on top of that that is extremely difficult to deal with. We’re pressured by our friends, family, at school and even by society. We’re pressured to be perfect, to get married and have kids, to have a high paying job, and as I mentioned earlier, we’re pressured to excel in school and have exemplary grades.
However, as Peter Marshall once said “When we long for life without difficulties, reminds us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure so hold on, it’ll be your time soon.” Then perhaps it all comes down to what we decide to be. Do we choose to become a pencil that’ll break or a diamond that’ll shine? So we walk away or do we try harder? As for me, I choose to be a diamond, to be resilient no matter how tough a situation may be as it is pressure that births diamonds not pleasure. These hardships either make or break us. Often, it prepares ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny and it’ll only settle to be extraordinary. Despite the negative feelings I initially had with the idiom, I am now deeply grateful for the broken record of “La crème de la crème.”