“There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”  Seneca (Roman Stoic Philosopher)

Anxiety.  Stress.  Fatigue.  Depression.  Addiction.

All very common and justifiable emotional issues that come with…well…with life.  I saw a statistic the other day that troubled me.  It reported that currently a poll found that 2/3rds of teenagers are anxious or depressed around the uncertainty of their athletic seasons possibly getting canceled due to COVID.  I reflected back to when I was a teenager, and well, let’s face it…that age group oftentimes doesn’t have the mental maturity to handle challenging situations.  And, as teenagers, sports, teammates, games, Friday night lights, homecoming, all are a vast majority of life and focused attention.  And when the prospect of those fun events being eliminated, anxiety and depression are the warranted result.

What shall we do then?  What if their athletic season is canceled?  What if there are no spectators allowed?  What if our teen is anxious?

In a word: empathy.

The possible canceling of these events is a tough thing to handle.  While we as parents know this won’t be the end of the world, we can simply recognize the unsettling feelings this is causing our kids and let them know we love them and that we care.  And we can gently remind them, as Seneca states, that we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.  As of now, the season isn’t canceled, and school is planning to go back into session.  Work hard at practice, enjoy the time with your friends, smile, have fun.  Focusing on the ‘imagining’ of a worst-case scenario is causing unneeded suffering.

And ultimately, no matter what happens to sports or school or ______ (fill in the blank), I’m truly impressed with today’s teens.  They are being groomed to be the most resilient, hardworking, positive cultural change-agents this world has ever seen.

My oldest daughter will be starting her freshman year and is on the cheer-leading squad.  She’s been practicing hard and is looking forward to cheering at upcoming high school football games.  My other daughter is going to be starting Jr. Hi. this year and made a spot in the marching band.  She started practicing last week and loves every moment.  It will be devastating for them if the season is canceled.  I’m preparing my heart for empathy.  I’m trying to remain positive.  I’m not allowing suffering in my imagination.  I’m staying above the fray…

How about you?