Graduating after facing months of the pandemic is an achievement in itself.

 You are entering a new phase of your life armed with the essential life skills learnt during the pandemic.  Additionally, you have shown resilience as you adapted to the unique learning experience rather than bemoaning your fate by displaying acting out behaviours, school refusals or, in this case, absenteeism from online classes. 

Above all, you have shown the motivation and perseverance not to give up while your world changed almost overnight, with school closures and the loss of your social network.

These gains are, at times, not enough to overcome the worries you have about your future, with pandemic-related job losses and your concerns about the environment.  

Another significant fallout from the pandemic is losing the opportunities to assess potential risks in everyday life. For example, because of the social distancing measures and lockdown, you did not have home curfew times, spend time with your friends or enjoy teen parties.

 As a consequence, you have missed opportunities to make split-second decisions; for example, instead of driving home after a party, you have to arrange a drive or saying “no” when your friend offers you a cigarette.

You may be able to understand the risks associated with drunk driving. Still, you may have difficulties making this decision when it is cooler to indulge in risky activities; in adolescence,  peers tend to have more influence than your parents.

In essence, you missed out on many essential developmental steps considered part of growing up. These steps are crucial once you leave home for university. 

Adolescence is when you explore and test the beliefs and the behavioural norms you grew up with to form your own identity. 

Additionally, in adolescence,  the prefrontal cortex, the brain responsible for judgement and rational decision-making, is not fully developed. Instead, adolescents rely on their limbic brain or emotional brain for making decisions, leading to impulsivity. Furthermore, it makes them prone to intense feelings of despair and hopelessness, over perceived or real failures. 

So, if you get a low score on a test or fail a job interview, you know you can find online resources to improve your skills and look for more job opportunities.

 Here, it’s essential to minimize the all-or-nothing thinking errors, where you believe all is lost. Instead, try to maintain normalcy by reminding yourself that there is a broad spectrum of absolute perfect results and complete loss at the other end.

To stay mindful of the present, take a deep breath, breathing in through your abdomen, hold the breath for a few seconds and breathe out, relaxing your shoulders and feel your stomach relax. Deep breathing will help with your emotional regulation, your concentration and retention of learning will improve. 

Another advantage of practicing mindfulness is that you are aware of your feelings to access professional help. Unfortunately, again the youth tend to use substances like street drugs to feel better. As already mentioned, adolescents can vacillate between euphoria and despair. 

Holding your own during the pandemic can be your source of inspiration and guidance. You know that you are the hero of your story; create your ray of sunshine when life throws challenges at you.

This article was published in the Telegraph Journal.

The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;

 Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for consultations with a qualified professional.