Yes, I know, Captain Obvious! It’s no surprise that in a recent emotions survey the most frequently experienced emotion was stress. What you may find more interesting is that 66% of young adults between the ages of 17-22 listed stress as their number one emotion. This group’s response was higher than any other age group responding.

You may remember that a month or so ago I asked you to participate in a three-question survey about the emotions you’ve felt and the experiences you’ve had over the past six months. That survey was part of a sociology mentoring project I’m participating in with a high school senior named, Grace. I play the role of her mentor and content expert.

Grace’s endeavor is to determine what social/emotional experiences people are having at this point in the global crisis. You may have been one of the participants in our survey. If so, thank you! Your input was vital in helping us identify the common emotions and experiences at this stage of the pandemic.

The survey offered 22 emotions, 10 of which related to experiences from which participants could select having had within the last six months. They were also asked to give their age and then rate the frequency at which they encountered specific experiences and emotions using the indicators; Never, Seldom, Occasionally, Often, and Regularly.

What We Learned

Those individuals in the 17-22 years of age group seemed to be the most stressed group of all groups responding to the survey. At this time, in their young lives they are finishing high school and launching into their college adventure. They should be having the time of their lives. But it does not appear to be the case.

Of the 22 emotions presented, those with the highest response rates for this age group are,

  • Stress 66%
  • Fear of Failure 62%
  • Feelings of Overwhelm 58%
  • General Anxiety 56%
  • Feeling like you are not enough 52%
  • Feeling negatively about yourself 50%
  • Insecurity 47%
  • Self-doubt 46%

I was curious to see what events/experiences might have been contributing to frequency of emotions. To help us draw conclusions, we asked about the issues or experiences the respondents may have had over the past 6 months. The frequently reported experiences included,

  • Negative self-talk 49%
  • Loss of identify/Not knowing self 42%
  • Difficulty trusting others 31%
  • Trouble with romantic relationships 30%
  • Difficult making friends 22%

What stands out to me is the fact that more than 60% of the young adults responded say that they feel stressed and are worried about failing. From my experience coaching clients of different age groups, these are two very common complaints. I believe that a contributing factor to the stress and fear of failing is the fact that many of them are struggling with negative self-talk and feeling like they don’t know themselves.

Is this information a cause for concern? I think it is.

I believe that as parents and teachers, we have a history of over emphasizing strong performance in school, sports, and extracurricular activities. What we don’t do well or often enough, is teach our kids how to emotionally regulate, be in healthy relationships, balance their time and energy, and take time out to get centered. Clearly, this age group needs more emotional support and lessons in self-love.

Which leads to what Grace and I are working on with the information gleaned from the survey. Currently in process, we are outlining a handful of podcasts and creating resources to address the most common issues, insights and provide solutions. Over the next two months, watch for our new educational offerings that will apply to all age groups.

Speaking of all age groups, my upcoming blog will provide more awareness of the emotions and experiences for those over age twenty-two. Interesting stuff!

Cheryl C Jones

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