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8 Undeniable Reasons Your 40s Are Your Golden Decade

8 Undeniable Reasons Your 40s Are Your Golden Decade

Full disclosure: I just turned 30 last month. But I am something of an old soul, and am definitely starting to feel more “myself” the older I get. While your twenties are a time in which to truly discover yourself, your thirties are a time to establish yourself in the hopes that, when you turn forty, you have a solid foundation and can start to feel as if you’re finally in control of your life. Once you hit the fourth decade of your life, you can be happy knowing that:

1. People finally see you as an adult

I got called “sir” last week, but it was by a teenager. When I’m 40, I hope to have established myself enough that people older than me will stop seeing me as a young buck, and start taking me a bit more seriously. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, veterans of your industry will often proverbially thumb their noses at you whenever you express your ideas or opinions, believing you to be “too young to know what you’re talking about.” There’s something about turning 40 that makes this argument obsolete, regardless of whether or not you do actually know what you’re talking about.

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2. You don’t need to be current

Even at 30, I absolutely love coming across a headline on Facebook reporting that two celebrities are dating, and I have no idea who either of them are. I think current clothing trends are ridiculous, and I have no intention of seeing most of the current summer blockbusters in theaters right now. As you hit 40, you realize all that garbage is stuff you cared about because you had nothing else to care about. Now, you have a wife, two kids, and a mortgage to pay. When you were 20, that didn’t sound too appealing. But at 40, you wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Especially not for a pair of skinny jeans.

3. You actually own things

Your car was paid off years ago. You can actually afford to put additions onto your home. You own lawn furniture, let alone living room furniture. You can go to the store and buy a big screen TV without it meaning you’ll be eating Ramen noodles for a month. You’re comfortable enough financially to not freak out every time your wife says “Let’s go to Target!” You might not have that private jet you thought you’d have by this time in your life, but at least you can afford to pay more than the minimum on your credit card bills.

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4. You don’t have a fear of missing out

FOMO, as the kids are calling it these days, doesn’t overcome you anymore. You don’t see Friday nights as an automatic party night, and you don’t even really care when your birthday comes up anymore for that matter. When your friends get together and you can’t make it because of life’s responsibilities, you don’t spend the rest of the weekend wishing you had gone. When they recall all the crazy stuff you missed, instead of thinking “Man, I should have been there,” you think “I guess I had to be there.” When you hit 40, you know you’ve had your time to party, and missing out on one night isn’t that big a deal.

5. People don’t judge you, and it doesn’t matter if they do

You’re not in high school anymore. People aren’t going to judge you for what you wear, or how you act. And if they do, you either take it in stride, or give them the what for. You also don’t care when people make fun of you for saying “what for.” Because what others think isn’t important anymore, you can feel comfortable going to the convenience store in sweats and a t-shirt, or not having a good hair day. You have way too much else on your plate to worry about the big red pimple on your nose (unfortunately, those don’t go away – but your attitude toward them sure does change).

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6. You’ve surrounded yourself with true friends

Again, high school is over. The friends you have at 40 are true-blue pals who will be with you through thick and thin. They’re not just around for the party, but will also help you out when you’re in need. Not only that, but your friends’ family have become your family, and vice versa. Your kids play together and your spouses get along great. You might not see each other as often as you like, but when you do get a chance to get together, it feels like you haven’t missed a beat.

7. You enjoy things you used to think were boring

At one point in the comedy Old School, Will Ferrell’s character mentions “a pretty nice little Saturday” in which he and his wife will be going to Home Depot, and maybe – if they’re lucky – Bed Bath & Beyond. There are either two extreme schools of thought on this: People who think this is a terrible way to spend a Saturday, and people who think this is an awesome way to spend a Saturday. Chances are, if you’re in the latter group, you’re most likely over 40. If you’re any younger than that, you’ll most likely have to pretend not to have enjoyed your time shopping for bath salts and fragrances when you’re with your buddies. After 40, no one will think twice when you say you can’t go fishing because you’re looking for new siding for the house.

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8. You’re still young

Being 40 shouldn’t mean half your life has passed you by. It means you still have an entire lifetime left to live. You might not be as quick as you were when you were a teenager, and you might not be able to stay up all hours of the night on a weekday like you did in college, but there’s still so much to do on this Earth. Your forties are a perfect time to do all of the things you’ve always wanted to do. I’m not saying go all “mid-life crisis” on your family, but you should definitely plan the vacation you’ve always dreamed of, or learn a skill you’ve always wanted to try. Just because life has gotten busy doesn’t mean you should be too busy to live life. Make the most of it!

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm1.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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