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30 Things I Realized About Life Before Turning 30

30 Things I Realized About Life Before Turning 30

Where does the time go??? The dreaded 30 is just around the corner beckoning at me but instead of looking back and wondering what I could have done, should have done or shouldn’t have done, I choose to celebrate it. I think we take life for granted these days and we dread getting older. Getting older should be a celebration of how far we have come, the achievements we have made and the experiences we have had along the way. We can all agree we are better for it.

There are a few things I have learned on this journey of my life and I put together a list of things that I have come to realize are true and have stood the test of time. Turning 30 does not have to be a dreadful experience it can be an introspective one where you can look back and appreciate the person you have become. So take the leap with me.

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  1. Don’t settle. If it doesn’t make you happy don’t even try. You will end up wasting time that you could have been spending with someone else.
  2. Family comes first. Whether it’s you first family or your second family,  put these people first. They will always have your back.
  3. Friends are more precious than gold. A good friend is priceless. You can have all the things in the world but without people to enjoy them with it can get pretty lonely. You will need good friends more as you get older.
  4. A good reputation is worth everything. People may not like you but they will respect you and from where I’m standing respect gets doors opened for you.
  5. Find something greater than yourself to believe in. No revolution has ever been started without a belief in something greater than ourselves. Whether it is a god or belief system, just find something that centers and grounds you.
  6. Being debt-free is the best thing you could do for yourself. So savor those ramen noodles if you need to but get out of useless debt. If you are not debt-free yet, now is the time to work toward your goal.
  7. Travel when you can. Those are some of the best memories you will have and they make for such great conversation.
  8. Drop your prejudices. You are now old enough to form your own opinions about people without your parent’s influence. The world is such a better place without angry people.
  9. The important decisions don’t have to be made on the fly. Weigh your options, ask for advice and make sound decisions for things that will have a long-term impact on your life.
  10. Create a filter for your thoughts. You can’t allow everything you see or hear to influence you. In the same way, you have to know which things to let in and which ones to discard.
  11. Learn to love your own company. Some people are so afraid to be by themselves but sometimes you need to be alone to truly find yourself.
  12. Invest in your future. Maximize your 401K contribution, have an IRA, or another type of investment. Whichever avenue you choose just invest in your future unless you want to work forever.
  13. Make a change if you don’t like your job. If you don’t like what you do for a living now would be the time to make that change.
  14. Have one person in your life who will tell it like it is. We all need a reality check once in a while, we also need a voice of reason.
  15. Take care of your health. Exercise often and stay fit. See your doctor for that annual check up, you pay insurance after all USE it. Take care of your teeth. I can’t imagine having to wear dentures so visit your dentist at least two times a year.
  16. Spend your money wisely. Spend it on things that you need. Don’t be the type of person that has to have the latest model of everything. Is it really necessary? In that same line of thinking make sure you have a few nice things. You only have one life to live and this is no rehearsal so don’t save the best for last. You might not be around to enjoy it.
  17. People’s opinions are just that, opinions. As I said above have a filter for the things you let it and people’s opinions should not change who you are.
  18. Life isn’t fair, it just isn’t. Some people will always have more than you have and they’ll have better things. Teach yourself to be content with what you have. You will be so much happier for it.
  19. Be grateful for what you have. Nothing more to say just take a moment and just be grateful. Think of that song.
  20. Learn to let things go. Don’t hold on to your anger and to grudges. Anger and hatred are consuming and not in a good way. They eat at you and make you a version of you that is not pleasant. Forgive and move on.
  21. Never pay full price for anything. This is a fun one but I don’t ever pay full price for anything unless I can’t help it. I am not a couponer but I have bought $300 suits for less than $50 so…I definitely hate paying full price!
  22. Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else is.
  23. Learn from your experiences good and bad. Don’t repeat the mistakes you made in your twenties over and over again. There is a name for that – foolishness. If something worked the first time then there is no point trying to re-invent the wheel keep doing what you are doing if its working.
  24. Don’t make decisions when you are angry. I have made big mistakes when I have made decisions when I wasn’t in a reasonable state of mind.
  25. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve. I learned this from experience. If you think you deserve a bigger raise than what is offered, make sure you say it. The worst that could happen is they say no BUT they could say yes.
  26. You can’t make everyone happy so stop trying too hard. There are people who will never appreciate you as you are. You are not perfect so quit trying.
  27. Time is your greatest asset. It is the one thing you will never have more of. Your days are numbered, remember? So make the best of the time that you have.
  28. Be kind to people. Extend yourself even when you don’t want to. It will make you feel so much better. I promise.
  29. Know who you are and don’t let people try to define you. If you stand firmly in what you believe people learn to respect you. It doesn’t matter how trivial it may seem, when you stand for something you won’t fall for anything.
  30. NO is a full sentence. You don’t need to qualify it or explain yourself. If you don’t want to do something or whatever the case may be just say NO and leave it at that.

Featured photo credit: Long Road/paraflyer via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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