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10 Signs You Are Having A Quarter-Life Crisis (But It’s Perfectly Fine)

10 Signs You Are Having A Quarter-Life Crisis (But It’s Perfectly Fine)

Are you going through your twenties, and constantly feel like your life is more weird and confusing than the plot of Inception? Have you got no idea where your career is heading, why your relationships are changing or why you’re feeling so lost all the time?

Fear not. While it may feel like you’re going crazy and your life is falling to pieces before your very eyes, what you’re going through is a rite of passage experienced by everyone as they moved through the turbulent twenties – as your doctor would say (in a very doctor-ish voice), ‘my diagnosis is a Quarter-Life Crisis, and it’s perfectly normal thing for people your age.’

The twenties are often described as a time to set yourself up, lay foundations for the future and learn how to make safe, intelligent life decisions. But if there was a survival pack for your twenties, it would contain a user manual with diagrams of young people being hit repeatedly by large trucks, a bunch of ‘look on the bright side’ quote cards, and a life vest with a whistle that attracts the attention of your parents’ harsh opinions.

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Put simply, the quarter-life crisis is a time of transitioning from early to late twenties, childhood to adulthood, and adapting to the changes that come with that. But while it can feel banging your head against a cold office desk most of the time, there’s actually nothing to worry about because life takes on a whole new level of meaning and beauty after the storm is over. When you’re going through the eye of a storm, though, it can be challenging to see the full picture and meaning of what you’re feeling.

Here are 10 signs that you’re in the middle of one of these points in your life, and why everything is actually perfectly OK.

1. You suddenly feel like your job is a prison cell and you need to escape

The most easily recognisable sign of a quarter-life crisis is feeling like you’re trapped at work, waiting for a call from Morpheus. It’s is a positive thing because it means you’re being forced to face big career questions head on that will have been eating away at you for some time. You’re realising life is meant to be explored, and having a job with a good salary or job security may be standing in the way of pursuing something you love, whether it be a different career, escaping overseas, working in a different country, or doing something you’ve always wanted to do.

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2. You daydream about your life when waiting in line for coffee

Studies show daydreaming is a sign of a creative soul, and if you find yourself regularly getting lost in your imagination it means you’re consciously taking control of creating your life, rather than reacting to events around you. As we move through our twenties we become more comfortable being ourselves and choosing our own direction, no matter what others think, and our creativity blossoms as realise we can do anything we want. Don’t just dream it, do it!

3. You get anxious scrolling through Facebook posts about weddings and pregnancies

Your early twenties are consumed by thoughts of competition – trying to go one better than your friends, being seen as successful by your peers, living up to an ideal your parents set. A major shift during a quarter-life crisis is realizing that life is not a game, the competitiveness is useless, and social hierarchies don’t matter. It’s a liberating moment when this all melts into place in your head, but one that often comes after a peak of panic when being in your shoes becomes too much. If you’re not there yet, just know that it’s just an emotional release, and life is so much more beautiful on the other side. Life can’t be planned, and everyone has their own path. It’s what makes life amazing.

4. You realize you have nothing in common with friends from High School any more

It can be a bit of a shock when you first start noticing old friends drift out of your life, particularly if you have a lot of awesome memories from High School or College. When you reach mid twenties you have changed substantially to the person you were at 16 or 17, which means your interests have too. People evolve, and as you mature you realize life is short, and best spent with people who add to it in some way. If you’re seeing some big changes to your social circles, don’t worry – it’s giving you the strength to consciously choose what sort of people you want in your life. And if there’s friend in your life who’s dragging you down, it might be time to break up with them.

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5. You do something you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the guts to go through with (like join a dance or yoga class)

Most of our lives we get told by others how to live – what should be important to us, how we should plan our careers, what we should spend our time on. I had always wanted to try creative writing but was taught from an early age that money is hard to come by as an artist, and I should try to earn a crust in a high-paying job instead. When I went through my own quarter-life crisis, I told the world to shove it, signed up for a class, and now I have the confidence to share my own expert opinions with the world. A lot of what we believe about the world is only mental, but it can feel so real to us. If you’ve done something random or fun recently (or are planning to), something you’ve always wanted to try, it’s a brilliant sign that you’re going through a shift, and valuing your own happiness over what others say.

6. You stay in on a Saturday night and don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything

It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but it’s totally okay (and smart) to not feel like you need to hit the clubs or go to every party or event you can on the weekend. Although your friends might ridicule you at first, realizing you can do whatever you want on a ‘party night’ (like choosing to Netflix and chill), means you’re listening to your body and paying attention to what it can handle. You’re also choosing to do what you really want instead of listening to the voices of others. It means you’re on a direct path to social enlightenment. Namaste!

7. You freak out whenever someone asks you to commit to something a year away

When you’re feeling on edge about your own plans for the future, anyone trying to get you to commit to something more than a few months away can make you feel anxious and boxed in. Just remember that even if it seems like everyone else have their future worked out, it’s totally OK (and even normal) to hold off on locking in to anything if it doesn’t feel right for you. It means you’re learning to walk to the beat of your own drum, and re-calibrating to focus on living to the rhythm of the present moment. If you’re worried about the ‘freak out’ bit, learning to meditate can totally help with that!

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8. You can’t understand why you’re still not happy, despite all of your achievements

Stepping back from your life and recognizing something’s wrong is difficult to do, but it’s a sign that you’re heading in the right direction. This means you’re beginning to take ownership of your happiness, and after freaking out about and blowing up all the mistakes you’ve made in your career, you will be in the box seat to steer things in a better direction. Just remember that our ‘I will be happy when’ targets actually change the closer we get to them, so chances are you’ve probably achieved most of what you originally set out to do, so all that’s happened is you’ve changed what you want (which is a very good thing)

9. You start noticing everyday things that you’ve never noticed before 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with making sense of your life right now, you will probably find yourself paying more attention than usual to little things around you, like nature, or the way your friend’s face twitches when they talk, or a new opportunity that’s been right under your nose the whole time. As you surrender to life and give up on trying to control it, past and future fade into the background, and the air you’re breathing takes center stage. your awareness is heightened, you become more relaxed and alert, and you can feel the textures, tastes and smells of everything around you on a grander, more beautiful scale. It’s an amazing place to be, and it’s the reason why you’ve seen so many self-help books around about how to live in the moment.

10. You have realized there’s no such thing as perfect.

This is a sure sign that you’re towards the end of your quarter-life crisis. If you feel anxious reading that sentence, that’s alright – you will get there. Once you fully appreciate that there’s no such thing as perfect, you will be able to get through not only the turbulent period you find yourself in right now, but literally any life crisis after it. Your life is only going off the rails if you believe there are correct rails, or a better train than the one you’re on. And as we grow, we realize there’s no such thing as the perfect train – so sit back in your cabin chair, feel the warmth of the tea cup in your hands, and enjoy the ride.

Featured photo credit: Photo is free license from Unsplash via download.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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