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10 Misconceptions About Your 20s That Are Making You Miserable

10 Misconceptions About Your 20s That Are Making You Miserable

Your 20s are a confusing time. There is a lot of uncertainty, as well as a lot of hope and excitement for the future. Unfortunately, misconceptions often cause unnecessary stress for people in their 20s.

Instead of berating yourself for what you have yet to accomplish, read these 10 misconceptions and erase limiting expectations you have placed on yourself.

1. You’re Supposed to Earn a Particular Salary

While it varies for each individual, most people have a general idea of what a ‘successful’ salary is for a twentysomething. The problem is, this misconception can discourage twentysomethings who are happy in their line of work, but are not very wealthy. It can also push twentysomethings to aim for the highest-paying careers, even when those positions are totally unsuitable for many of them.

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2. You’re Supposed to Own a Home

Owning a home is a very specific goal- unlike the goal to be happy, which can apply to everyone. When family members, friends, or colleagues push twentysomethings into pursuing the goal of home-ownership, they’re creating more confusion in the already jumbled mind of a twentysomething. You may be happy renting an apartment, traveling for a period of time, owning a home, or something else. What matters is that you are choosing it for your own reasons.

3. You’re Not Supposed to Have Any Baggage

Let’s face it – your twenties are just a decade after your teens. Many people in their twenties are still dealing with and learning from mistakes made in high school and college. It’s unreasonable that twentysomethings should be expected to be completely proficient adults, free of any bad habits or immature tendencies left over from earlier years. These issues take time to understand and heal from. Oftentimes, that healing process happens throughout your 20s.

4. You’re Supposed to Have a Huge Network

A lot of twentysomethings feel abnormal when they compare their friendship circles with those of others around them, or those of people in the media. But the truth about twentysomething friendships is that they’re not nearly as neat and tidy as we like to pretend. You may have lost or grown apart from friends, and maybe you haven’t replaced them yet. You may have long-distance friends you rarely see, or friends in different age groups. Basically, our social lives should not be judged on the basis of unrealistic expectations.

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5. You’re Supposed to be Married

Watching your friends get hitched is a common anxiety-inducing experience for twentysomethings. It gives the impression that you have a romantic time limit, and that if your friends are pairing off, you must be abnormal for not doing so as well. But few people in their 20s thoroughly know themselves and understand what kind of partner they need. Thus for many twentysomethings, it can be a sign of wisdom that they have not yet become engaged.

6. You’re Supposed to be Single

On the flip side of the coin, you may have a gaggle of single friends telling you that it’s far too early to marry or have children. Again, this can be a misconception. The ability to maintain a healthy marriage and raise a family depends entirely on a couple’s maturity level – not their age. A variety of different personality types exist, and so it’s misleading to assume all twentysomethings will benefit more from being single than being in a committed relationship.

7. You’re Not Supposed to be Afraid

A lot of aspects of twentysomething life are straight-up scary – choosing careers, choosing relationships, choosing where you’d like to live, etc. All of these life-altering decisions, on top of day-to-day stresses, would understandably create fear for anyone. But it is an unfortunate misconception that fear is seen as something that is not supposed to occur. We use fear to guide ourselves away from unsafe choices, and we also use it to recognize self-defeating beliefs. If you’re both excited and afraid about an upcoming decision, train your brain to let go of negative expectations.

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8. You Should Be in Great Shape

As a twentysomething, you may be barraged with ideas about how young people are supposed to look, and the expectation that you are supposed to be in perfect physical shape. What’s worse is that there is also a misconception that this perfect body shape should come naturally. In reality, you can be in poor health at any age if you fail to support and take care of yourself. Twentysomethings need to remind themselves that their diet and workout routines don’t have to be flawless. They just need to be supportive. Once you support your body, it will naturally change and improve to support you.

9. You’re Supposed to Have a Particular Degree

One of the most discouraging and misleading beliefs is that you need a certain kind of education to get anywhere in life. People debate whether college degrees really matter, with some claiming advanced degrees are necessary. Some say a Bachelors is needed, and others claim you must get accepted at a particular university to succeed. However, in fact, none of these are innately true. Twentysomethings from varying educational backgrounds have succeeded in a range of industries. By believing that your education level will limit your options forever, you’re quitting before you have even begun.

10. You’re Supposed to “Have it All Figured Out”

Your 20s are the first decade of your life that you are officially considered an adult. But the thing so many fail to realize is that transitioning from being a teenager to an adult is not like an on-off switch. It’s a gradual transition with ups, downs, and periods of confusion. The idea that you have to ‘have it all figured out’ isn’t only a myth for twentysomethings, but for adults of any age. Those in their 80s still don’t have everything figured out, so why should you pressure yourself to achieve that in your 20s?

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Featured photo credit: stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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