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5 Reasons Why Youth is a Time of No Regret

5 Reasons Why Youth is a Time of No Regret
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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 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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