Advertising
Advertising

It Can Be Painful, But You’ll Learn A Lot In Your 30s

It Can Be Painful, But You’ll Learn A Lot In Your 30s

Remember when you thought you’d have life all figured out by the age of 30?

But now here you are, officially a 30-something and yet your life is far from sorted. Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

For most of us, our 30s are a time of change and uncertainty. Perhaps things haven’t worked out quite how you would have liked so far. But the good news is, there’s still plenty time to shape the life you want and you’re sure to learn a lot along the way.

I turned 40 last month which means somehow I made it through my 30s in one piece. Now, I’m still no life expert but as I reflect on the last ten years, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learnt.

Here are some of the lessons you’ll learn during your 30s.

1. You’ll learn friendships change

Your friendships will change a lot during your 30s. As people pair up, have kids, move house or change jobs, your friendships inevitably alter.

You may discover friends you have known for years don’t make the effort to keep in touch anymore. Or perhaps you no longer have anything in common with friends you’ve had since childhood.

It’s difficult to accept but there may be people who simply aren’t meant to be in your friendship circle anymore. But new friendships will take their place and the good news is, the friends you have at the end of your 30s will probably be friends for life.

Advertising

2. You’ll learn to make big decisions

When you enter your 30s, you realize those big decisions you’ve been putting off can’t wait forever.

During my 30s I moved house twice, set up a business and had a baby. All demanded huge decisions that I’d been able to avoid during my 20s.

Decisions about your career, family, finances and relationships – you’ll face them all during your 30s. And no matter how old you get, making decisions is tough but with every big decision, your life changes; usually for the better.

3. You’ll learn about heartache

Divorce, fertility issues, bereavement, these are all things many people in their 30s have to face, often for the first time. The thing is, the journey through life isn’t meant to be straightforward and you can only really appreciate the highs, when you’ve also experienced the lows.

As Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.

4. You’ll learn what’s really important

As you get older, your priorities change. The things that were important to you in your 20s such as making money or owning the latest gadgets will now seem less important.

Your 30s is a time to redefine your priorities; whether that’s traveling more, achieving a better work/life balance, or starting a family.

5. You’ll learn about compromise

Life is full of compromises and during your 30s you may find you have to compromise on big things such as taking a pay cut to get the job you really want, or moving city to be with the person you love.

Advertising

Of course, it’s equally important to know when not to compromise. If you want kids but your partner doesn’t, it’s probably impossible to find a compromise. Instead, you may have to make the difficult decision to walk away from the relationship to get the life you really want.

6. You’ll learn to look after your body

Alcohol, sugar, late nights; they all take their toll. In your 20s you can enjoy your vices without inflicting too much long-term damage. But in your 30s, all those bad choices suddenly have a huge impact.

When you look in the mirror and see wrinkles, grey hairs and saggy skin for the first time, it’s a shock. And while you can’t reverse the ageing process (at least not without lots of cash and a great cosmetic surgeon), you can slow down the effects of ageing by making smart choices.

Now is the time to nurture your body to keep you healthy throughout your 30s and beyond.

7. You’ll learn to invest in the future

“Live for today” is the mantra of most 20-somethings. And this is perfect when you’ve got plenty time ahead to iron out your mistakes. But as you enter your 30s, you’ll realize although enjoying the moment is still important, you also need to plan for the future.

By investing in your finances, your health and your relationships you’ll form good habits that will make your future healthier and happier.

8. You’ll learn life is short

In your 20s you had the luxury of knowing that your whole life was still ahead of you. Meanwhile in your 30s, the sensation that time is hurtling along just keeps getting stronger.

You’ll treasure every second more and only go for things you really like or really needed.

Advertising

9. You’ll learn about regret

Did you want to be a millionaire by the time you were 30? Travel the world? Win an Oscar? Goals you had in your 20s may no longer seem achievable and although it’s hard to let go of your dreams, with the wisdom you’ve gained, you can create new ones.

10. You’ll learn about children

Whether you already have kids, want kids, or definitely don’t want kids; there’s no escaping the fact that during your 30s everyone seems to be talking about children.

When you have absolutely no interest in kids, all the conversations about diapers and nurseries can become tiresome. But seeing your friends settle down and have kids can clarify how you feel about starting your own family.

You may find your thoughts about children change when you hit your 30s. Plenty of people (including me) change from thinking “definitely not”, to “definitely maybe” as they realize it’s a decision that can’t be put off forever.

11. You’ll learn to develop your own style

Knowing how to dress in your 30s isn’t easy. You’re too mature to wear teenage fashions but not ready to dress like your parents. Take the opportunity to develop your own style. It’s refreshing not to have to be a slave to fashion anymore.

12. You’ll learn to socialize differently

If your 20s were all about all-night parties and being seen in the hippest clubs; you may learn your tastes change in your 30s. Personally, I’d rather go for coffee than cocktails and much prefer watching a film with friends to hitting the town.

Being in your 30s gives you the freedom to do the things you really want to do, not what you think you should be doing.

13. You’ll learn not to sweat the small stuff

Remember when you were worried about everything? What to wear, how to cut your hair, whether your colleagues thought you were a dork for staying in on Saturday night? Well, great news; in your 30s you’ll learn not to care about the little things.

Advertising

It’s painful to realize how much time you wasted overthinking things but the worries that caused you sleepless nights in your 20s simply won’t matter anymore. And when you learn not to sweat the small stuff, you’ll have more energy to focus on more important things.

14. You’ll learn to manage your money

If you haven’t already got your finances in check, you’ll learn to during your 30s. No doubt you’ll make some mistakes along the way but you’ll quickly become an expert.

Whether you’re investing in business, property or parenthood; now is the time to focus on money matters and financial planning.

15. You’ll learn to value your family

During our late teens and 20s many people grow apart from their parents and siblings as they fly the nest and embrace freedom. But during our 30s, many rediscover the importance of family.

Having kids of your own can bring you closer to your parents. And as your friendships change, it’s comforting to have the stability of family relationships.

16. You’ll learn to stand up for yourself

Whether it’s asking for a pay rise, or standing up to bullies at work, once you’re in your 30s, you’ll learn how to be assertive when it counts. Confidence comes with age so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want; you just might get it.

17. You’ll learn to love yourself

Your 20s can be a difficult time when you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and worrying “am I good enough?”. Well, the good news is your insecurities lessen during your 30s.

You might not have life completely figured out yet but you’ll definitely care less about what others think and learn to love yourself a whole lot more.

More by this author

It Can Be Painful, But You’ll Learn A Lot In Your 30s Carrots and tomatoes 15 Simple Ways To Encourage Your Kids To Eat Vegetables Amazing Benefits of Strawberries (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next