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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 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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