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Enjoy the warm weather and sunshine and try to take everything with a grain of salt

PMG FILE PHOTO  - Alyson JohnstonSummers are by far the most coveted times of teenagers lives, mine included. As I'm writing this, I only have a few days of school left until I'm officially a senior.

It doesn't even seem real to say that. After all, I feel like I just finished my freshman year. Even though I know that I'll be leaving Wilsonville in one year, it still hasn't truly hit me.

When thinking about what I wanted this column's topic to be, I was pretty stumped. Maybe it's because it's almost summer, or maybe because I've covered a wide variety of subjects over this year. Regardless, I'm here at my computer once again racking my brain for ideas.

Usually I try to think of a topic that is somewhat universally relatable – school, stress, politics sports – something that many readers can feel connected to. For this piece, though, I'm choosing to pull more from my own personal experiences in order to let you in on a few things that I've learned as a high school junior.

Junior year was tough. I'm pretty sure my last column said something fairly similar, but it's true. My penultimate year at Wilsonville pushed me to my limits, both mentally and in calculus class.

I'm a perfectionist, so the one thing that this year has forced me to do is relax, or at least try to. My teachers would probably emphasize the "try to" part.

I took on quite a few things this year, from being editor of my school newspaper, to taking some AP classes, to writing these columns. All of the responsibilities quickly added up while time refused to slow down. While striving to do all of these things flawlessly, I obviously stumbled along the way. These mistakes bothered me, but also forced me to accept the fact that I can't be perfect at everything all of the time.

This year has definitely taught me to be patient with myself and be kind to myself, even when I don't want to. Giving myself permission to not be completely perfect all of the time has given me more freedom to try new things and to be a little less caught up in the minute details of every test, essay and newspaper publication.

As much as I can preach about how being kinder to yourself after making a mistake is so wonderful and freeing, it's insanely difficult. My friends, family and teachers will definitely tell you that even though I try to be more easy going about school and grades, I'm still a stress case.

When I get really caught up with a low test score or essay grade though, I try to step back and look at the bigger picture: Will this one score affect my life in five years? No. So why am I freaking out over it right now?

This mentality is not only impactful for students, but also for adults. Will the traffic you hit this afternoon make your life worse? Maybe for the time you're sitting in it, but probably not in the long run.

Is this small annoying thing that your loved one is doing going to dramatically impact your life? Hopefully not.

So my parting message for the summer is to not sweat the small stuff. Enjoy the warm weather and sunshine and try to take everything with a grain of salt. Hopefully I can take some of my own advice next year, too.

Alyson Johnston will be a senior at Wilsonville High School.

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