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5 Reasons Why Youth is a Time of No Regret

5 Reasons Why Youth is a Time of No Regret

It feels like you have absolutely no control.

Authority is a challenge, friends are a double-edge sword, many of the stuff you are learning seem pointless and relationships are this messy thing you can’t quite figure out. Everything is too confusing; too real; too huge. You are no longer a kid neither an ‘adult’, or whatever that means, but responsibilities keep piling over your shoulders.

People say it is a phase and that it will pass: ‘things will get better’, ‘you will understand it when you grow up’. But the truth is that when you are in your teens, words don’t really matter. They aren’t YOU, right? How could they possibly know? Well, my friend, the thing is that we were once young.

We all have been stupidly wrong and been too proud to admit it. We also thought we found our soul mate and later had to cry ourselves to sleep. We all said “You are my best friend”, and we all thought we could achieve anything in life. And we survived. Even better: we learned.

There are many things you don’t appreciate until they are gone, people say. Your youth is one of them, and I want you to understand and realize how precious this time is. It might not be the best —or maybe it is-, but it is definitely not a time to regret but rather a period to embrace on its plenitude.

Why?

1. People that Failed You Will be Replaced by Better Ones

After twenty five years on earth, I can state that human relationships are messy and confusing. There is no way you can deny that.

We all have had ‘best friends’ who eventually became strangers and that first, amazing love that, well… might not have turned out that well —if it did, congrats!

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When you are younger, friends are a huge pillar in your live. They are your gang, your pack and the people whom you most identify with. You probably share common interests, hobbies and, after all, you are growing up together. But the truth is that your expectations and interests will get in conflict all the time with others. Others who, the same as you, are trying to find their place.

Figuring out how to make relationships —of any kind- work is tough. For a teenager who is just realizing about all the social rules and norm, is even harder. I can’t think about all the fights and troubles and struggles I have been through with all the people I have met. But I learned something: Time will teach you about betrays and lies, but also about how incredible some people are.

Yes, you will get really hurt during the process, as everybody else. And you will hurt people even if you don’t want to, just because what you expect and what others might expect always creates tensions and conflicts. Just think about how many people live in the world right now. It is impossible to not get out there and find a jerk. That is pure statistics. But all that, all the messy friends-drama that seems overwhelming now, will help you to discern among the people that are worth trusting. And not only that, it will also help you to know yourself and realize what do you stand for; what are your values.

Some friends and lovers will be gone forever, but other will stay with you for the rest of your life.

2. All the Stupid Things You Did, You Won’t even Remember Them

In youth we learn; in age we understand. — Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

You failed a few courses. You lied to your parents. You got drunk. You fought with your friends. You embarrassed yourself in public. You were rejected. And you are still with us, right? Great, because I have good news for you. Even if you don’t believe it, all those things will make you stronger; they are part of the person you are today.

Somehow, everything converges at some point creating that person you find in the mirror every morning. You might like or dislike that person, but that is who you are, indeed. The thing is: there is no point on looking into the past. You can’t change it! So if you don’t like who you are, try to do better. Change. Learn from what happened.

I know it is hard to see the value of all those stupid and embarrassing moments, especially when those things seem like life-changing events. But life is way too long, my friend. At some point, all those things will be just faded memories. A great exercise to relieve some stress about all the problems you have right now is ask yourself this simple question: Will I remember this in twenty years? Or even ten years. Do you remember the fights you had in your childhood? Because I am sure you had a few, or that you did something that annoyed your parents.

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If the answer is no, well, what is the point on overthinking it? In twenty years, who will remember that?

3. What Others Think about You Doesn’t Really Matter

We all have suffered the pressure of ‘what will they think about me if…’ Probably you are still worried about that sometimes. Maybe it is the way you dress, what you do, how you behave, with who do you hang-out… Thousands of things.

Let me share a secret with you: If you think carefully, you will realize that we spend our lives judging. It doesn’t have to be a bad kind of judgement, but we do it simply because that is the way we organize our reality. If you see something, let’s say a person acting weirdly on the street, you apply what you know making a judgement of value.  And most likely ten minutes later you will forgot about it.

It works both ways. I know that trying to prove yourself all the time as a unique individual is tough. There are many confusing things happening at the moment. I know it because I have been there, of course. But the truth is that nobody cares. Or almost nobody besides your parents, who are praying for you to grow up already. But the rest of the human beings are way too busy with their own problems to pay attention to you. And besides, they have been teenagers too. With time you will be more and more aware about this, and all those worries will go away. And you will also realize that if somebody spends too much time criticizing you, a) they are jealous, or b) their lives are so meaningless that their best way to kill time is look at what others are doing.

Do you really think their opinion matters? Do you really believe that what anybody thinks about you is something worth worrying about? Hell, no. It doesn’t.

It is your life and your decisions, and if you do something wrong, well, let it be your mistake and not others’ fault.

4. Your Teens is Great Period to Explore Yourself

You won’t get another chance to be so free. Believe me. Yes, being an adult has some perks like economic freedom, no parents and so. But those advantages come with a price: the price of reality. Soon you will start feeling the pressure of getting a real job, finishing school, settle down, blablabla… It might seem far away, but trust me, it will be here before you know it. And, hey, I am not saying that being an adult is not cool. It is pretty awesome, but you will miss something. Do you know what is that something?

It is the ability to dream and be yourself. Is the chance to say ‘f*** the world, I am going to do this or that’. It is the energy to do crazy things and staying up late and live life full-time. You have the rush of youth, and that is a gift that will only last a few more years.

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It might not sound like much but, Gosh, you have no idea how much I miss all that. You don’t have to worry about bills or taxes or payments; you can just enjoy time with friends and make plans and dream about all the things you want to when you grow up.

Don’t give up on that. Hold on tight to those things, seriously, because one they are gone you will miss them.

A lot.

To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth. — Pearl S. Buck

5. Youth is Not the Greatest Time of Your Life

This is probably the greatest gift. Yes, being young and crazy is great, but the best part is that it is not over. Eventually the ‘lost’ sensation will fade and life will slowly start to make sense. You will then experience the OMG-I’m-getting-old feeling, and it is okay. We all will have to go over that. But what comes next is also amazing and it will be part of who you are, the same way that all the things you have experience before.

Casy Neistat mentioned on one of his videos that “You spend you twenties figuring out what you want to do and your thirties doing it”.

You will step-by-step start to trek a more profound path that leads to understand yourself and what do you want to do with your life, and all that wouldn’t have been possible without those crazy years full of ‘regrets’. It all converges together and you only have to look at people around you or even people that you admire:

Their youth shaped part of their lives today.

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Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art. — Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

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You don’t have to live scared of all the mistakes you are doing. You don’t have to give up.

Soon, all that will be in the past and the best way to don’t let that settle down is not look back but look ahead to be the person you want to be.

You only have to open your eyes and be ready to surf the wave when it arrives.

Don’t regret your youth: embrace it and learn, because more incredible things are coming.

Featured photo credit: Brooklyn Morgan via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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