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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)
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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.

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

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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