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Every 20-Something, Be Careful! 7 Beliefs Held By You Aren’t True

Every 20-Something, Be Careful! 7 Beliefs Held By You Aren’t True

Now that I’m about a month and a half into my thirties, I I truly feel like I know everything there is to know about life.

Okay, that’s not true in the slightest. Ironically, as I get older, I realize I know much less about the world than I thought I did the previous year. While a person’s twenties are full of “firsts” in the adult world, there’s still so much to learn about the world, and life in general. If I could go back to my 19-year-old self and prepare him for what’s to come, I would have started by letting him know the following notions simply are not true:

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1. Everyone has to like you

Maybe it comes from a youthful sense of entitlement, but many 20-somethings feel as if everyone has to like them. Which is incredibly ironic, because they just graduated from high school a few years ago, a place and time in which nobody really liked anybody. All kidding aside, if you live your life trying to please everyone and make them approve of you, you’ll drive yourself nuts. It might be hard to believe, but some people might actually not like you. But that’s okay. The only thing you can do about it is be as nice as you can to everyone you meet. If someone treats you like garbage in spite of all the nice things you’ve done for them, that’s only a reflection on them. If you react negatively to their detrimental behavior, that’s on you.

2. Your mistakes will ruin you

Life in general is just one learning experience after another. Everybody makes mistakes. Making a mistake in life is okay, as long as you learn from it and improve upon yourself. If you continue to make the same mistake time and again, they stop being mistakes, and start defining who you are. The saying goes, “It’s never too late to change.” While that is true, there are consequences that come with waiting too long. If you find you’ve started to stray from the path you know you should be on, make the adjustments right away before it becomes to difficult to right the wrongs you’ve made in life.

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3. Good college grades will lead to success

Here’s a joke for you: What do you call the person who finished last in med school? Doctor! When you get into the real world, nobody will care that you had the highest GPA in your graduating class. Your employers will only care about how you plan on putting your knowledge into action in order to help their company. I’m not saying you shouldn’t focus on your studies in college; I’m saying you should focus on actually learning and not just “making the grade.” Once you’re out of school, those letters on your transcript become meaningless. Your work, networking, and life skills are what will get you far in life.

4. Getting rejected after a job interview means you failed

Not getting a call back after an interview can be incredibly disheartening. You spent so much time researching the company, the position you were interviewing for, and the questions you knew they’d ask. You thought you nailed it. But you didn’t even make it past the initial round of callbacks. It hurts. But it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough for the job, or that you’re a complete failure. Look at the interview as a learning experience. Think of the times you weren’t sure of an answer, or ways you could have been better prepared to begin with. Keep these shortcomings in mind and focus on strengthening them the next time you get invited in for an interview. Also, be sure to keep yourself on the radar of any company that passed you over; you never know when another position will open up and you’ll get a second shot.

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5. Your health can wait

When you’re young, you feel like you can skip the healthy breakfasts, stay out all night partying, and hit the gym only when the mood strikes you. As you get older, you’ll see these decisions catching up with you almost immediately. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle today reduces your risk of serious illness and disease later in life. You should start a healthy gym routine in your twenties, and carry it with you throughout the rest of your life. Living healthy at forty will be a lot easier if you’ve been living healthy for the past twenty years. Getting healthy when your forty is a whole different story.

6. You need to know what you want to do with your life

Most adults I know have had at least two different long-term careers since their twenties. With the world constantly evolving as it is, experts say this trend will continue to the point that some of us will change careers every decade or so. And really, what’s wrong with that? I’m definitely not the same person I was ten years ago. At 21, I didn’t have a wife, still lived at home while working and going to school, and thought I would be on a completely different path than I’m on now. At 30, my main focus is on starting a family. My career is no longer the main focus of my life, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s okay to switch it up if you’re unhappy. As Led Zeppelin famously said, “There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

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7. You need to be in complete control in your life

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a five-year plan, or should just drift through life without a care in the world. But you can’t control everything. Things will happen that will derail your plans, and when they do you’ll either have to get back on track, or start down a new path. Learn to be okay with such organized chaos. Be flexible when plans change. It’s the people who shut down when things go wrong that fall short of being where they want to be. Trust yourself that you can navigate your life to the best of your ability, along the smooth roads and the bumpy.

Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm9.staticflickr.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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