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Why It’s Really Good and Normal to Lose Some Friends as You Grow Older

Why It’s Really Good and Normal to Lose Some Friends as You Grow Older

friendship – IMG_3604Usually people feel sad and lonely when they notice their pool of friends is getting smaller and smaller as they grow older. But, it’s completely normal to lose friends as you grow older.

When you’re past the 30-year-old mark, you can no longer just “hang out” with friends carefree, every day. I mean, you’ve got responsibilities now; you’re wiser and have a clearer picture of what you want out of life.

Here’s why it’s really normal to lose some friends as you grow older, and why you shouldn’t be too downcast about it.

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1. You have to deal with family, career and other concerns first.

As you grow older, you are more engaged in building your business, career and or taking care of your family and just can’t see many of your friends as much as you used to anymore. That is completely normal and expected. If you were to neglect these key areas of your life so that you can spend days on friends’ couches and on local bar stools, it would be sad indeed.

Of course, it sucks when the rigors of adulthood wash away friendships, but it happens. Fortunately, you can always pick up the phone and catch up with a particularly close friend you’ve not been in touch with for a while.

2. You discover some friendships just aren’t worth the effort any more.

Maintaining friendships is hard work. It takes up your time, and even resources. While there are some friendships you cherish and wish to maintain for as long as possible, some just aren’t worth investing in anymore. Not that those friendships you aren’t interested in anymore are necessarily bad—it’s just that you are older now and have outgrown them.

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For example, friendships from when you were young, rebellious and a worse version of yourself are often best left in the past. On the surface, it may seem like it’s a bad thing to lose these old friendships, but it’s good. It’s proof that you are growing. If you are not losing some of those old friendships, you may not be growing up.

3. You relocate to geographically distant places.

One day a close friend calls and tells you she’s received a job offer from a company that pays well; the only catch is that it’s overseas. And she already took it. Another couple of months pass by and another close friend moves out of the city to another state hundred of miles away. And another, and another, and another. Eventually, only two close friends remain.

And then you call the two remaining friends to inform them you are getting married, buying a house upcountry or whatever, and planning to move out of the city soon. You realize getting together with these friends socially will become too much effort. So your friendship slowly ruptures. It sucks, but it it happens. You have to accept it and more on, otherwise you may never grow.

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4. You start to enjoy different things.

As we grow older, we change. Our friends also change, as do the things that bonded us. For example, you may have an old friend you loved because he was simple and modest, but who has since become rich and developed a taste for the extravagant. You notice it’s awkward for you to spend time with him now because you can’t afford the same restaurants, travel arrangements and other entertainments. So you gradually grow apart.

In cases like these, there’s often no malice or definitive parting of the ways. It just happens slowly and it’s good because it allows you to let go and make room for new friends who you share similar interests, values and maybe even station.

5. You realize that some friends are actually toxic.

Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” He was right. Sometimes you find some friends have problematic mindsets that are only revealed as they grow up. We all know those friends—those who have a skewed view of women or men, for example. They always manage to make you do or say things you’d vowed never to do again like drink, maybe. Their crazy lifestyle is problematic for you, and they somehow always drag you into it when you are around them.

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Although you genuinely care for them, you know they just aren’t good to be around anymore. So you avoid them. That’s a smart move because it protects you from getting into something you’ll regret later.

6. You have a handful of cherished friends you prioritize.

When you are older, you’ve had a chance to evaluate, sieve and settle for true friends who you know will stay no matter what, no matter how circumstances change. These true friends love you for who you are, not for what you have. And you love them in the same way.

These are the type of friends you prioritize now and are willing to move mountains for. You enjoy their company and they enjoy yours. Your conversations are great and visiting one another to pick each other’s brain is a pleasure.

It’s hard to find true friends like these so maybe there are just two, three or maybe four, if you are lucky – but never an entire gang. And that’s the way you like it because it take less effort to maintain one true friend than ten on-and-off buddies.

Featured photo credit: friendship – IMG_3604 by N i c o l a via Flickr via flickr.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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