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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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