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This Is Why It’s Alright For You To Feel Lost

This Is Why It’s Alright For You To Feel Lost
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So you’re lost? That’s alright because so am I.

Let me start by saying that it’s perfectly alright to feel lost. It’s alright not to have the latest gadgets and gizmos. It’s alright not to be doing what everyone else is doing – or even wanting to do what everyone else is doing. It’s alright to feel as though you’re drowning in a world of expectation. It’s alright to want to travel instead of going to university. It’s alright not to do either of those things. It’s alright to want to better yourself. It’s alright not to become a part of the societal norm. It’s alright to feel lost.

I’m lost. I have been for a while. I spent much of my teen years and early twenties denying who I am. I denied what I loved in exchange to be welcomed and accepted into the community of those who valued the “traditional” life.

From time to time, I had moments where I knew this was not the sort of place I belonged, but I frequently denied any kind of question about how I was living my life. After all, I was at university getting drunk with friends most nights. However, I also had a job while I was working towards a degree. I was building my future! Wasn’t this what life was about?

After university, I joined the rat race and got myself a job. I even bought a car on finance. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Pay extraordinary amounts of money to show off to others how privileged we are and how well we’re doing?

However, that feeling of wondering where I belonged and the question, “What am I actually going to do with my life?” was unrelenting. Not only was I asking myself that question, but so was everyone else around me. They’d ask when I was going to get “serious” about my life. In other words, when was I going to settle down and have a family. My mum still asks me when am I going to have children at least once a week.

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I found myself getting tired of modern world pressures, as well as its values and rules about what makes me successful, and how we we’re all supposed to live. Eventually, life became so unsatisfactory that I found no joy in my day-to-day business. My days were empty. I felt empty. I was tired all the time, I complained about everything, and all I could see were the flaws. I was on autopilot wondering when the hell life would get its colour back. I knew I needed to get out, but I couldn’t see the path. I’d wake up in the morning and find it such an effort to get up out of bed. I was slowly being eaten up by who I was supposed to be. I didn’t like it.

Questions kept cropping up, like: “What am I doing?”, “Where do I belong?”, “What am I here to do?”, and “Am I actually achieving anything?” I’d see other people around me achieving so much and I wondered if I was living life wrong. Is there a wrong way to live life? The answer to that is no, but it’s extremely frustrating seeing others sailing through life with ease while I felt like I was caught in a rip-tide of confusion, expectation, and a desire to do more.

It was then that I realised I was lost. I had been lost for all that time, but to admit that to myself would mean I’d have to actually change my life and admit that I was quite simply unhappy! I’d have to take a bashing to my pride. Who wants that? However, ever since I admitted it, I’ve been slowly carving my path the way that I want it to be.

I’m still feeling lost, but it’s not as suffocating as it once was. It usually becomes unbearable when I start looking towards the future and I have a momentary panic about what I’ll be doing in five, ten, twenty years. Then I remind myself, I’m here in this moment and not there in the future. I try and remember that I need to concentrate on the beauty of the present moment.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of seven realisations I had about why it’s alright for us to feel lost. I find these are especially helpful to remember when I’m having a particularly bad day.

1. It’s an opportunity for you to reclaim your life

This is a time of empowerment for you. You get to decide what’s best for you. YOU. No-one else. And no, it’s not selfish to want great things for yourself. I often found that I used to feel guilty for wanting to do things differently to the norm because of how it might make others feel, but then I realised that it’s alright to do this for myself. I came to see that it was other people’s expectations that let them down, not me. You can’t sacrifice your happiness for someone else’s expectations. Take back your power and reclaim your life!

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2. Your life becomes an open book for opportunity

Yay! You’re now open to everything in life! What makes you feel good? What makes you feel bad? What makes you burst with excitement? Avoid what makes you feel bad, find what feels good, and pursue what makes you burst with excitement.

The thing about being lost is that the universe has now got the chance to send you all kinds of opportunities. Some of which you may not have even previously thought about, but now you suddenly find yourself discovering that same opportunity showcased a talent you didn’t know you had! While the universe sends these opportunities, it’s up to you to decide whether you take them or not. Do you like to write? Draw? Paint? Make games? Cook? Skateboard? Act? Whatever it is you love, keep persisting with it. Johnny Depp lived out of his friends car and sold pens before he made it as one of the most successful actors. Let being lost take you to places you never considered.

3. It’s an experience

Like everything in life, being lost is also an experience. It’s different for everyone, but we all ask the same questions. The joy of it is we all arrive at different places with amazing stories to tell that may one day inspire and help someone else on their journey.

Once you accept being lost, you enjoy being lost. What?! Enjoy feeling this way! Are you mad?! Perhaps, but it means I have no-where I’m rushing to be. I realise I’ve taken the pressure off of myself. I can see what life gives me and decide whether or not I want to pursue it. Remember, you get to determine what kind of experience this is so make it a joyful one.

4. You realise how much love you have to give

That’s why we become lost in the first place. We care so much about making our lives matter that we start to question what we’re doing. In the process, we find ourselves unsatisfied. We find ourselves wanting to feed the homeless, rescue animals, construct sustainable buildings, and fight against GMO’s. Maybe you want to recycle unwanted clothing into blankets for the poor, give food to the food banks, or read to children one afternoon a week. Whatever it is that we want to do, the driving force is that we want to give a part of ourselves to other people. In the emotion of wanting to give so much to others, we can learn that part of feeling lost is realising how full of love we are, and how ready we are to give that love away.

5. You’ve reached the peak of who you’re told to be

You’re lost because you don’t want to be the person who works 9-5, or who works to pay the bills. You need to be so much more than that. You’ve realised there’s a bigger reason for why we’re all here on this Earth. You just want to play a role in creating an extraordinary world to live in. Suddenly, average doesn’t feel like enough for you anymore.

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This is a massive chance for you to ascend towards being your true self. It’s a chance to really focus on yourself and discover what really enthralls you about life. You know that you don’t particularly want what everyone else wants for you. Now, you’ll have time to slow down and think about what life you want to create for yourself. You’re evolving and that’s incredibly exciting!

6. Don’t ever be afraid to feel lost or to admit to feeling lost

Honestly, it’s so freeing and refreshing once you admit to yourself that you feel lost. It’s kinda scary too, but in that moment when you finally say, “I’m lost”, you give yourself the power to change your perspective and your life. I understand it’s hard to admit something like this in our world, especially when we’re taught that we must remain strong and we must know the direction of our lives. Where is this place we are all going, anyway?

7. No-one has all the answers

Yep, even all the self-help books, all the philosophical teachings, and everyone I’ve spoken to; they all make one thing clear: no-one knows it all. This is very reassuring for me because at least I know there’s not one absolute answer that I’m meant to be finding. It makes me feel more connected to others, so I don’t feel as lonely.

Maybe life isn’t always about rushing to and from some place? Perhaps, feeling lost is a chance for us to be still for a while? Why not take a little breather from the rat race? This is a chance to stop and observe the world, a chance to smell the roses, and a chance to just be. Do we need to be heading anywhere?

In Conclusion

I’m 26 and I still don’t know where I’m going. However, I know that I’m trying and I’m moving. I might be moving at a snail’s pace, but it’s still counts! Don’t ever feel guilty about “floundering”. I don’t. At least we know we’re lost, which means we can start to take action.

It’s alright for me and you to be lost because we’re collecting moments and experiences about ourselves and our world. We are each trying to make a meaningful positive difference in the world. For that, we can pat ourselves on the back. We’re not complacent, we’re not lazy, and we’re not expressionless. We are, by far, quite the opposite. Our minds and hearts are busy conjuring up ways to make our world a greater place.

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I’m not going to say it’s easy, but it’s a necessary process. At the end of the process we can say “we made it” with a sense of fulfillment and joy. I’ve figured that in the meantime we’ve got to roll with life, take our sweet time, and enjoy discovering new parts of ourselves each and every day.

I know it sounds incredibly cliché, but in this process of feeling absolutely lost, I have found pieces of myself. Even better, I’m allowing myself to put the jigsaw together to create an even better me. I will never complete the jigsaw, but that’s now become part of the fun. How much more of myself is out there to discover?

I don’t where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been, and that’s an excellent place for anyone to start.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.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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