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20 Signs You Have a Quarter-Life Crisis

20 Signs You Have a Quarter-Life Crisis
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“Is this it?”, I ask myself while looking around our apartment. I made it through college, got a job and moved in with my boyfriend. I’ve taken all necessary steps to enter “real life”. The world is at my feet! But it doesn’t feel that way. Instead, I feel lost and I know I’m not the only one.

When I look around my circle of 20-something friends I see people breaking up, changing jobs and leaving on trips to Asia in search of themselves. Even those high school sweethearts who just bought a house and have a beautiful baby are wondering whether they’re moving in the right direction.

“Quarter-life crisis”, they call it. That constant towering wave of doubt, changes and insecurity. But you know what? We can learn to ride the wave.

We can use our questions to find out what we really want in life. We can turn our insecurities into confidence. We can go out there and find a job that does more than simply pay the rent. But first we need to recognize the signs and admit we’re in a crisis.

1. You feel alone in your struggles

Social media like Facebook and Instagram give you the impression that everyone you know is either on vacation, getting a promotion, pregnant or engaged. They push people to only show the best and hide the rest, but that doesn’t mean “the rest” isn’t there.

Instead of relying on what you see, take the time to listen. Don’t just ask your friends how they’re doing, but ask them about their relationships, their jobs and if they still like where they’re living. Show them that you care and you’ll be surprised of how they’ll open up to you. And of how many struggles you have in common.

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2. You hate your job but don’t see a way out

You hit “snooze” ten times every morning because you don’t want to get to work. Maybe your job just pays the bills but doesn’t even resemble what you’d love to do. Maybe it’s exactly the job you’d planned to do, but turned out terribly disappointing. Maybe you have no idea of what you’d want to do and figure this lousy job at least pays the rent. Now what?

Take your time. Very few people get their dream job as their first job and even those who do might change their mind about it and want something else later. Ask yourself what you hate so much about this job to avoid applying for a similar one in the future, but also look at the skills you’re developing now that you could use to land something better. And keep looking. At job openings, but also around you. You wouldn’t be the first to meet someone new and think: “I’d love to do what he’s doing”.

3. You question your relationship

When you’re in one, you question whether you should be. Is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? Would you marry him? Do you want to grow old with her? This isn’t a high school fling anymore. This is the real deal, shared fridge and all. So what? As long as you’re with someone, these questions will keep on popping up. What really matters now is if you’re happy together and if you’re making it work.

4. You’re sure you’ll be alone forever

If you’re not in a relationship right now, it seems like everybody else is. Heck, they’re even getting married or having kids which mean the best ones are already taken. You’ll never find someone.

Just hold on. Your life is only starting to take shape and create room for new people, new opportunities and new experiences. Give it time and be open. Don’t ignore the rest of the world because you feel comfortable around the people you know. Someone will come along.

5. You’re afraid to chase your dreams

Don’t be. Now’s the time to try, to test, to fail. You’re young, resilient, strong and motivated. Don’t be afraid to try something you might otherwise regret not doing later. If you fail, you can get back up and try again or move on.

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6. You cling on to old friends even though you don’t click anymore

Friends, Sex and the City, That 70ies Show, we all love those series about a tight group of friends that stay friends forever. It seems so appealing, so comfortable to be able to call the same people whenever you want to hang out for the rest of your life. The reality is people change. Everybody follows their own path and sometimes that might take a direction very different from yours. Maybe so different that, at one point, you’ll disappear out of sight.

That’s okay. Some friendships really are forever, but some have a limited lifespan. They belong to a certain period of your life – school, college, vacation – and then fade out.

7. You feel fatter than ever (and maybe you are)

This sign of crisis is more pertinent to some of us than to other, but the fact is that sitting at a desk all day and having takeaway for dinner is not a healthy lifestyle. Get an active hobby, go to the gym, learn how to cook healthy and please don’t think pizza is okay because it has tomato sauce. Your body will thank you.

8. You feel like someone else is living your life

When homework giving teachers cleared the scene, others somehow stepped in to take over your agenda. Visiting family every weekend, organizing the office’s party, driving your niece to dance class, not taking that solo trip because your partner doesn’t want you to. Did you ever make these decisions? Because that’s what they are, your decisions. If you’re not comfortable with them, say no. At work, at home, with family and friends. Don’t let other people decide for you. Learn how to say no.

9. You’re too proud to ask for help

You’re supposed to be able to do this on your own now, right? Yes, on your own, but not alone. Nobody is able to do everything alone and you’ll often get better results if you put your pride aside and ask someone for help. However, that doesn’t mean you should ask them to do it for you. It means getting advice and some assistance.

10. You feel guilty about not wanting to “live the dream”

Remember Facebook and Instagram? Add blogs and you have the perfect recipe for dream fabrication. Everywhere online you read about how you should travel when you’re young, how experiences are better than things, how it’s so cheap to live in Thailand and so rewarding to teach English in China. You feel enticed and inspired at first, but guilt follows shortly after.

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Sure, you want to chase a dream, but does it have to be on the other side of the world? Are cubicles really pure evil? Does this mean you’re not adventurous or smart? Of course not. Someone else’s dream isn’t yours and shouldn’t be. A dream isn’t better because it sounds more daring, strange or impressive than another. And don’t forget that whatever you want to do might seem completely impossible to someone else.

11. You expect things to happen because you deserve them and are disappointed when they don’t

It used to be so simple. You finished your meal, you got dessert. You studied hard, you got good grades. You did your chores, you got your allowance. But slowly you begin to realize that’s not always how the world works. There are just too many people on this planet who want the same thing. Which is why that smooth-talking colleague might get invited to a dinner with the boss and you don’t. Which is why that confident friend always decides where you go for lunch.

Which is why you need to speak up. Being kind, friendly, smart and hard-working doesn’t cut it anymore. If you want something, you’ll need to go for it and ask for it, maybe more than once.

12. You apologize for being who you are and doing what you do

Wasn’t this insecurity thing supposed to end together with teenagehood? Apparently not. You hesitate when people ask what you do, who/if you’re dating or why you still don’t have a car. Why? Your life is yours to lead and the more confident you are about your choices, the further they will take you.

13. You’re afraid this is what the rest of your life will be like

It won’t. Yes, you’ve made some first important decisions, but that doesn’t mean they’re permanent. You can switch jobs, partners, houses, hobbies… And sometimes someone or something else will decide it’s time for your life to change. Whatever your life looks like now, it will keep on evolving.

14. You’re doing a lot, but enjoying little

It’s great to do a lot of things, meet a lot of people and be out the entire time, but not if you’re too stressed to enjoy any of it. Don’t just fill up your agenda because you feel like that’s what you need to do. Take the time to figure out what really matters and what puts a smile on your face.

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15. You’re tired. Always

Newsflash: you’re not sixteen anymore. You’re body actually needs to sleep at night and doesn’t handle a party as well as it used to. Caffeine might look like the perfect solution to get all of that work done, but it won’t make you feel as fresh as a walk outside or a power nap. Take breaks. Hit “pause” once in a while. Your body needs it.

16. You let others hold you back

Everybody has them. Friends or family who somehow got “stuck” or are full of negativity. They laugh at your dreams without ever trying to achieve anything for themselves. They tell you to be realistic and give advice that comes down to embracing the status quo. Don’t listen to them. You may love them, you may support them, but you can’t have them influence you. You can stay in touch, but don’t stay in the same place because of them.

17. You compare yourself to others and the result is never pretty

“He has a better job than I do.” “She has a more stable relationship than I do.” “They travel more than I do.” Enough of it already. Instead of focusing on things that other people have that you don’t, ask yourself how they got them and learn from them. Don’t see their successes as your failures, but as a motivation to do better.

18. You feel mediocre at best

You’ve only made it through a quarter of your life and yet you feel like a failure for not having achieved anything grand yet. Really? So you weren’t the best in your class or you aren’t the top performer at the office. You have time. Three-quarters of a life, to be precise, to find out what it is that you’re really good at and excel. Don’t worry, you’ll get there.

19. You think that nobody has your back

Life is crazy. People are busy. “How are you” has become a way of saying hello instead of a question. That doesn’t mean nobody will pause when you really need it. You’re probably thinking of a few people who’d be there for you emotionally, financially or in another way right now. If you are, you’re luckier than a lot of others.

20. You’re terrified

You have no idea what you want to do next year or in five years and you can’t even imagine what your life would look like ten years from now. You think of all the things that could happen and spend hours going over every possible scenario. It scares the hell out of you.

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And that’s okay. Everyone’s afraid. Nobody knows what’s coming next. You can never be in total control and you have to accept that. All you can do is rely on the fact that you made it this far and along the way have gathered the skills and confidence you’ll need to deal with whatever is next. You’ll be just fine. Promise.

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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