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Advice for Graduating Seniors and Their Parents

One of the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic has been (or will be) the loss of certain rites of passage for the high school class of 2020. In no specific order, most have lost out on competing in their final year of spring sports, their proms, their graduation ceremony, Senior skip and/or prank day, grad-night outings or parties and in some cases, where students do not have access to Wi-fi or computers in their homes, the end of their school year.

While I cannot imagine anyone wishing these circumstances to befall any child, the fact is that we have no control over the situation. I learned a long time ago that the best way to deal with things is to let go of the things that are beyond my control and put all of my energy into to the things I do have control over. In the words of legendary basketball coach, and very wise human being, John Wooden: "Don't let what you can't do, get in the way of what you can do."

If parents are talking to each other about how awful things are, it does not help anyone and actually hurts their children. When parents express how badly they feel that their child is going to "miss out" on their graduation ceremony or their prom, it actually makes their kids more anxious than they probably already are and makes them feel worse not better.

These things are not going to happen, so I find it is best to accept that fact as soon as possible and begin looking for opportunities in the situation. No circumstance, regardless of how bad or tragic it seems at the time, is without opportunities within it.

High school seniors, in general, are known to feel anxious about all of the big changes that are coming their way, without the added stress of a pandemic and all of the uncertainty it brings. What they need right now is reassurance from their parents that things will work out in time.

When they see that their parents are upset or scared it makes them feel more scared. There's additional stress in many households for the parents, many of whom are suddenly unemployed, but as the adults in the household it is important to shield your children from those additional concerns right now. If they see you are fearing your future that will likely make them more anxious and fearful about theirs.

A majority of the kids I have talked to are more upset about not being able to hang out with their friends, than they are about missing their senior rites of passage. Some say their parents are more bummed about all they are losing (not being able to post pics on social media from the events they are missing) than they are that their kid is missing the events.

Many of life's greatest triumphs are sprung during challenging times. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Airbnb were all born in horrible economic downturns. Nelson Mandela unjustly spent 27-years in prison and could have easily spent those years feeling sorry for himself. Instead he used that time to grow himself into one of the most revered leaders of all time and succeeded in eliminating apartheid in his country.

If you live in the present and take advantage of what each day has to offer you may be surprised to find yourself better off than you were before the pandemic happened.

Adversity is a fact of life for almost everyone. Some people let adversity destroy them, and others look at it as a gift and experience growth. The only difference is in which way you CHOOSE to look at it.

As Wayne Dyer says, "It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there's nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized."

You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc


Sam Obitz is a leader in the use and development of mental skills that help you achieve peak performance. Visit The Mind Side Blog at

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