I have the unique opportunity to have real, deep, meaningful, one-on-one conversations with between 20 and 30 young people a week. This has been a difficult time for them as I’m sure is no surprise. Here’s what they are telling me:
A lot! They are talking a lot and I’m doing more listening than I ever have before. My clients are downloading on me. I used to have to ask a lot more questions and fill in a lot more silent moments by prompting the next part of our conversation… I don’t have to do that now. Young people have so much to say to me! They have a lot of thoughts, concerns, questions, stories and feeling bottled up. They always come with things to talk about. Because they don’t have their usual outlets available.
They are lonely. They miss their friends. They miss their classmates. They miss their teachers. They miss crowded hallways. They miss sleepovers. They miss hanging out at their friends houses. They miss playing their sport. They say, “I never knew I’d miss school so much.”
Some kids are absolutely killing it right now and are the happiest they’ve ever been, but this is not the majority of my clients. This is a select few where the circumstances have really worked out to their benefit. For example, some of these kids have found tons of time to do what they are passionate about, like photography, golf or gaming. But most kids are not the happiest they’ve ever been.
They are over school. They hate it. Online is not working for most of them. They like their teachers. They often tell me that they know their teachers are trying really hard, but they say that they aren’t learning. They don’t want to keep doing it. Some have thrown in the towel. Others are barely hanging on by a thread.
They have concerns about the world. “Is it ever going to be like it was?”
They are hopeful. “Once there’s a vaccine everything is going to be good again.” “As soon as we are back in school I’m going to be so happy. “I think my team is going to be able to have a season.”
They need reassurance. I’m surprised by how much kids light up right now when I tell them they are doing a good job. When I tell them I’m proud of their attitude, resilience or effort. They take compliments in a way that they didn’t used to. Almost like they are fuel needed to make it through these difficult days and they are low on fuel, if not completely out of it.
So what am I hearing from young people right now? More than I’ve ever heard before!