Dr. Wes: This week, we welcome Katie Guyot (Ghee-you, hard “g”) to the Double Take chair.
She’s the ninth co-author since 2004, continuing a remarkable tradition of teen journalism that is without match in any other newspaper or magazine in print or online.
Katie is a Free State High School senior and won our April contest in a field of eight strong competitors. She’s also editor of the Free State Free Press. We’re backlogged with questions well into September at this point, so we’ll have no problem keeping her busy churning out smart advice for teens and parents.
Over the last year, and with the publication of our books, Double Take has enjoyed an even wider exposure in the media. Katie will have the new role this year of furthering that trend by appearing with me on radio, TV and in print, representing our community as well as her own writing and opinion.
I say it every year because it bears repeating: We really live the charmed life here in Lawrence, Kan., with such a rich base of artistic, literate and ambitious young people who add so much to our lives. It has been a real privilege over the years to provide one very public forum for their expression, and it gives me great pride to kick off another Double Take year with a young woman of such caliber as Katie.
As is our tradition, we turn the first column over to the new author to opine on whatever she sees as a critical interest, value or concern for today’s teens. Katie selected the problem of stress as a theme for her year, and I think you’ll find her take on it quite thoughtful and important this week and in the months to come — though when she uses phrases like “trigonometric identities and MLA parenthetical citations,” I’m pretty sure I’ll be having latent test anxiety dreams tonight.
Katie: As a senior in high school, I’m only too familiar with the two extremes of a teenager’s stress load, with summer vacation on the infrared end of the spectrum and finals week on the ultraviolet.
Usually in August, as I imagine the impossible balancing act that awaits me as soon as summer wanes, I find myself developing a nervous twitch somewhere in my face, leading me to sit down with a calendar to work out a countdown to the last day of school in May.
This year, I want to start out a little more optimistically.
First, I will scratch out the word “impossible” before “balancing act.” For you teenagers out there, pick up a pen, find that phrase in my first paragraph, and delete it. It’s not only possible but vital that we find a comfortable balance between school and life before we all go prematurely gray by mid-semester.
School is stressful because it’s important — and not just to college admissions officers. Along with learning trigonometric identities and MLA parenthetical citations, students are teaching themselves about personal accountability and time management, so middle and high school are the perfect times for teenagers to experience the responsibility that comes with scheduling their time wisely.
A wise schedule does not include all work and no play. Trying to get through school when sleep and fun are buried beneath a stack of textbooks is like carrying a 30-pound backpack with one strap drawn up tight and the other hanging loose at your side. Sooner or later, the stress is going to give you a painful hunchback.
To keep your life’s shoulders balanced, study hard and get involved in school, but always remember to schedule some “you time,” whether going out for a run or watching an episode of “Gossip Girls.” A healthy mind and body are more important than a big, shiny “A,” and most college admissions officers would agree.
Starting today, I’m going to challenge myself to follow my own advice. As the saying goes, it’s easier said than done, and between school, activities, and Double Take, I’m expecting a busy year.
That said, I applied for this position because I wanted to give teens and parents of teens whatever insight I could into these turbulent adolescent times. I can’t put into words how excited I am to start writing alongside Dr. Wes.
At the end of the year, I’ll let you know how that balance has worked out for me.