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10 Difficult Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their Twenties

10 Difficult Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their Twenties
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Your twenties are a difficult time. Having just graduated high school a few years ago, you’d been convinced by society that you were ready to take on the world. However, upon graduating college a few years later you realize you’re no longer the oldest of the young adults; rather you’re the youngest of the old adults. With this realization comes a ton of other life lessons you’ll learn from. Here’s a list of ten difficult lessons.

1. Your worldview is flawed

When you were in college, you probably took a philosophy or ethics class, joined a couple protest groups, and thought you had all the answers to the world’s problems. When you get out into the real world, you’ll find things aren’t as cut and dry as you thought they were. Issues that seemed black and white when you were stuck in the bubble of your college campus actually have myriad grey areas that you never understood until you lived through them. Once you’re dropped into the real world, you’ll immediately realize you don’t know nearly as much as you thought you did.

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2. You won’t always be right

Once you realize you don’t know anything, you’ll have to come to the realization that you won’t always be right. While in your twenties, you should start to see the world in a more objective manner than you had as a young adult. You’ll also realize that “being right” isn’t always the best case scenario. Sometimes it’s better to realize you were wrong and work on whatever issue is at hand, than it is to push forward under the false impression that you’re 100% correct in your assumptions.

3. You should never stop learning

Just because you’ve graduated from a prestigious four-year school doesn’t mean you have the right to stop learning. In today’s ever-evolving world, being a life-long learner is a prerequisite to finding success. Technology has made it easier than ever to continue your education in some way on a daily basis, whether through online courses or workshops, or simply subscribing to newsletters and podcasts. The second you take a break from learning, someone with more ambition will surpass you in knowledge, skills, and marketability.

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4. You’re replaceable at work

Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you’ll always have a job. There won’t be any boo-hoo pity-party for you if you mess up big enough that your company can’t afford to keep you. It’s an unfortunate truth that job security is no longer a guarantee. You might even find yourself being replaced by a machine at some point in your lifetime. This is why you should continue learning and adapting to the world around you. Staying current in your skills is essential in order to make yourself as irreplaceable as possible.

5. No one owes you anything

Like I said, your sob story won’t get you anywhere in this world. Just because “it’s always been your dream” to work somewhere doesn’t mean that company will hire you. Even if you’ve graduated from an Ivy League school, you can’t just assume you’ll walk across the stage and step into a cushy career. Your degree simply shows that you have the drive and ability to work up the ladder from the bottom — which is exactly where you’ll start out. Being hired anywhere is a great opportunity. Don’t overlook an entry-level position because you think you deserve more.

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6. Relationships are difficult

This lesson applies to friendships and romantic relationships. As you grow older, you’ll find it harder and harder to get together with friends you’ve had over the years. Although technology has made communicating with friends easier than ever, our busy world has made it harder and harder to get a bunch of your friends in the same room at the same time. Forging a romantic relationship is incredibly difficult as well. On top of all the hard work you’ll be doing to stay afloat in your own life, you’ll also need to put extra effort into making sure your relationship doesn’t get into a rut and end prematurely. Keep it fresh, no matter how hard you have to work at it.

7. Your decisions have ramifications

When you were young, you could afford to be pretty reckless without having to really pay for your actions. As an adult, every decision you make will either contribute to building you up or breaking you down. Even something as innocuous as scrolling through Facebook for an hour throughout your day means you’ve wasted five to seven hours of your week that you’ll never get back. On the other hand, using every minute of your spare time to read and improve your life will put you ahead of those who take frequent breaks.

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8. Money is hard to earn

When you were younger and either lived at home or lived off college loans, money wasn’t really an issue. Even paying simple credit card and cell phone bills didn’t absolutely drain your bank account. You were actually free to use most of your earnings as you pleased. However, the second you’re thrown into the real world, this all goes away. You’ll realize the value of every penny you earn the first time you shop for your own groceries using your own money. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. You’ll also realize that money isn’t everything. Most importantly, you’ll realize that you can be just as happy without money as you were with it.

9. You don’t have forever to do what you want

Your twenties are an odd time. You’re just starting out in the real world, and still trying to “find yourself.” However, you also have bills to pay, so you’ll take any job you can if you haven’t found the dream job you love. That said, you shouldn’t let yourself become stagnant and stuck in a job you dislike, because the longer you’re there, the less likely it is you’ll be able to get out of it later in life. While it’s never too late to learn a new trade, every passing day puts you at less of an advantage. Get moving on your dreams as soon as possible, because one day it actually will be too late.

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10. Life never gets easier

Growing up, you probably watched your parents go through every day like finely-tuned machines that never stopped moving. You never really thought twice about it. You might have figured that they were just used to the daily grind, and were just coasting along. As you grow older, you’ll realize that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. You’ll realize you have to put your all into every single day you live, and go to bed exhausted day in, day out. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means every day is a chance to do better than you did the day before. Lessons like this frame your life in a different context. Most importantly, you’ll realize you have even more respect for your hard-working parents than you did in your twenties.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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