By Jayvyn and Stephen, 5th grade | June 2021 … NFL football player Malcolm Jenkins said he learned photography during the pandemic.
“I think it’s been healthy for me,” he told us during a recent interview. “It’s a creative outlet for me, something I enjoy doing. And it helps me raise my mood, when, inevitably, I hit any kind of low.”
Mr. Jenkins said he also spoke with his therapist regularly during the pandemic. He said he already faced stress and anxiety before 2020. He said the conversations helped a lot.
He said he feels less alone because of his talks with his therapist.
“When I get depressed, or I get anxious, I tend to isolate myself,” he said. “I don’t want to be around people, but then I’m stuck dealing with all the things I got in my mind.
“Being able to have people that I know I can call on has always been a huge deal for me,” he continued. “Ever since I really started focusing on how I’m taking care of my mind and my spirit, I realized you need other people to be able to lean on to have safe spaces.”
When kids are feeling depressed or having anxiety, they should not feel bad or blame themselves, he said. It’s completely normal to have those feelings, he said. He suggested that if you’re dealing with stress or anxiety that you should go to your parents or an adult or counselor that you trust.
“Holding it in by yourself is really hard to do, especially, as a kid,” he said. “So having somebody, especially an adult, that can give you perspective, that can help you feel seen and heard is very important.”
Playing football during the pandemic was different, Mr. Jenkins said. For example, he said, he could hear the squeaking of the goalpost net when it was raised for a field goal.
“I’ve played football since the fourth grade and I just finished my 12th year in the NFL,” said Mr. Jenkins, who has won Super Bowl rings with the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints. “It was the first time I heard the gears from the goalpost. I never heard that before because the stadiums have never been that quiet.”
It started to feel a bit more like normal by December, when fans were allowed back into the stadiums.
While the pandemic hasn’t affected the way he plays football, it has changed the way he prepared during the offseason, he said. He had to work out at home instead of the gym. He and his teammates had to meet on the field instead of inside.
Mr. Jenkins said he never regretted his failures in his career, because it helped him get better at football.
“I’ve learned to realize that life is a journey, right?” he asked. “It is going to be full of mistakes that are going to be full of setbacks. …
“If you never learn from your mistakes, you’re probably doomed to repeat them. And so, you’ve got to learn from mistakes, and not be afraid to own them and enjoy learning the lessons.”
— Jayvyn and Stephen are reporters for William Rowen Healthy Roar