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10 Important Things People Wish They Understood In Their Youth

10 Important Things People Wish They Understood In Their Youth

Hindsight is a funny thing—it can teach you valuable life lessons or fill you with regret. The question is what are you going to do with the benefit of hindsight? If you draw lessons from experiences that have happened and take notes to self, hindsight can empower you to face the future.

Here are ten things many people wish they understood when they were younger.

1. You need to live your life for yourself (not others)

Many young people live their lives to please others. They pursue careers, start businesses and even pick marriage partners to please their parents, friends, spouses and even kids only to realize later on in life that was a big mistake. Back out of people’s plans for you and run away from dreams that aren’t your own. You only have one life to live. Live it in the most meaningful way for you.

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2. Your work can make you truly satisfied or truly miserable

Steve Jobs explained it best when he said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” The sooner you understand this fact the better. It becomes increasingly harder and complicated to switch careers as you grow older.

3. Your education is always a good choice—whatever form it takes

Although formal education is often looked down upon by young people, many people who have lived through their youth wish they would have either gone to or stuck to college. One such woman laments, “Why, oh why did I not finish college and have a real career? I am 55 and qualified to do absolutely nothing. Just always thought something will come along. Now I will struggle to pay bills the rest of my life and will never retire. I caution my girls, 17 and 16 to work hard and value their education.

Whether it’s to land you the career of your dreams or to meet people from different walks of life or to learn to see things a little differently, take learning seriously and never stop educating yourself.

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4. You really need to marry well, or not at all

There is nothing worse than a bad marriage. It is almost impossible to do well with your life if your marriage isn’t working. That’s what many people say they wish they understood before getting into marriage. They would have done things differently if they knew this earlier—taken time choosing a life partner and not rushed into marriage. Marry well or not at all and it will spare you a lot of agony in the future. Any kids you may have will also be spared a lot of pain in a dysfunctional family.

5. You need to start saving sooner rather than later

Old age catches up on all of us faster than we imagine. Your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s creep on you and before you know it you are in your sunset years. And nothing is as heartbreaking as staring at the bleak reality of your 401K in retirement. You might find yourself counting every nickel and dime you wasted on frivolous expenses in your youth, and it sucks. Start saving now for retirement. No matter how little your income, try to save a small portion of it. Remember, as cheesy as it sounds, a penny saved is a penny earned.

6. You need to cut back on your debt from the start

Many people are burdened by debt and lament that they are forced to take any job they find because they are tied to monthly payments. Their advice is: TRY and incur as LITTLE loan debt as possible. No matter what they tell you, think long and hard before getting a credit card—it’s not free money. And no matter how high the credit limit, you shouldn’t go blow it all on designer duds and a fancy vacation. Developing large debt early limits your options and narrows your choices in life. Debt is slavery.

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7. You need to speak your mind and stand up for yourself

Believe it or not, many of the biggest regrets people have in life have to do with not standing up for themselves. People never seem to forget or forgive themselves for being too scared to speak up against bullies. And many of these bullies are in our work places. Maybe it’s a boss that you wish you had told off even if it cost you your job. Speak your mind boldly and confidently in front of others and never be afraid to stand up for yourself. You are your one and only true advocate. Besides, regret is terrible.

8. You shouldn’t worry unnecessarily about what others think about you

Many people, particularly when they are young, place way too much importance on what others think about them, which is unfortunate. They are constantly wondering: What will they think of me? Will they like me? However, people well past their youth offer this advice that they wish they had known in their youth: Take all those worries, tie them all to a balloon and cut it loose because in the end none of that matters. You might think other people’s opinions are crucial to your future success and happiness but that simply isn’t true. Other people’s opinions only affect you when you yourself allow them to.

9. Your travels will provide some of your best memories

Most people stay close to home. They don’t travel all that much. And yet, trips with family, friends or just by yourself to Disney World, to Africa, or even to the lake give you the sweetest moments of life. Traveling offers an opportunity to see the world, experience new cultures and have fun, even when it rains. You really remember trips so travel more often when you are young, advice people who have traveled a little more and lived a little longer. It’s the stuff that memories are made of later in life.

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10. Your health is a priority

Many people tend to take their health for granted when everything is okay and only acknowledge it when things go wrong. Sadly, this is one of the main reasons many people find themselves incapacitated because of their health—a problem that could have been avoided had they taken their health seriously. Adopt healthy habits now that lead to a long life where you’re healthy enough to do everything you want to do, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Also, break bad habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Bad lifestyle habits have ruined more lives than most other causes.

What other things can you add that you wish you understood when you were younger?

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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