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8 Signs You’ve Matured Through Hardship And Not With Age

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8 Signs You’ve Matured Through Hardship And Not With Age

The saying ‘with age comes wisdom’ is true, but it is perhaps oversimplified.

When we were kids, we heard the adults in our lives tell us again and again ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’. It’s not until you’ve been out on your own for some years, and experienced a myriad of hardships, that you realize how true these sayings are. In fact, they have more to do with your experiences than simply getting older.

It’s not like our brains become more capable, or able to absorb more knowledge as we get older. In fact, it’s the opposite. As early as our late 20’s, we begin to lose neurons, and it becomes more difficult to pick up new things and remember as much information as we did when we were younger. This means maturity comes from the amount of things we’ve seen, experienced, and more importantly, how we dealt with these things. How many catastrophes and epic failures have knocked you down? How many heart breaks have taken a chunk out of you, and left you feeling like it will never be replaced? More importantly, how many times have you gotten back up, dusted yourself off and kept on going?

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The more you go through, the more wisdom you gain. The more mistakes you make, the more you qualify to dole out advice on what and how to do things. Your credibility stems from having gone through hardships yourself.

The following are 11 signs you’ve matured through hardship, and not just with age:

1. You know the difference between love, lust, and emotional dependency

You know yourself and what makes you truly happy. You are capable of telling the difference between someone who makes you feel like you desperately need them, and someone who strengthens you and has your best interests at heart. You are capable of objectively understanding the relationships you are in, as well as the kinds of relationships you want to be a part of. You also know how to love others (family, friends, pets, etc.) unconditionally, and value yourself enough to expect those who will love you, to love you just as much. You don’t settle for less, because you deserve the real thing.

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2. You are not a quitter, but you know when it’s time to give up

Yes, you’ve had to work hard to get by in life, and you’ve learned that putting in the time when it gets tough proves to be the only way to accomplish anything. Yet you also know when something isn’t going to work, or when the cons outweigh the pros. You are smart enough to not waste any more time than the necessary. Finally, you know that giving up something that’s wrong right now, will free you up to pursue something that’s much better later.

3. Your failures have taught you that you aren’t perfect, and that’s o.k.

Your failures have taught you that you aren’t perfect, and that’s o.k. You’ve learned through making mistakes what not to do, which has probably come with its fair share of embarrassment. You’ve learned that asking for help is not only necessary, but a sign of strength, not weakness. You don’t bat an eyelash at reaching out to ask for advice from someone who is better at something than you are. Doing these things has taught you humility. Although you might have believed you knew everything at 18, you are now aware of just how little you really did know. You probably also realize how annoying you must have been at that young age, when you have the opportunity to meet other young adults with the same cocky attitude. It reminds you to stay grounded.

4. You’ve learned that things don’t happen when they’re rushed

You may naturally be an impatient person, but you’ve learned that things don’t happen when they’re rushed. They happen when you put the time in, keep showing up, and keep an eye out for opportunities as you go. This routine makes you patient, because you know that you’ll achieve your goals eventually, and that things always get better. After all, you were able to get that exasperating bachelors degree after chipping away at it for 6 years while working full time. You might have also tasted the accomplishment of purchasing your own trip around the world after saving every penny for three years straight. You thought these things were impossible when you started, but learned that with patience and time, all things can be achieved.

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5. You question situations, and look for proof or confirmation before investing too much

You might not be a hardened cynic, but you certainly aren’t dewy eyed and naïve. You question situations, and look for proof or confirmation before putting your money or signature on something. For example, if a landlord asks you to sign the lease on an apartment before you’ve done a walk through and made a list of damages, your answer is no.

Similarly, If a potential flat mate tells you they are ‘100% sure’ they want a room your leasing, but won’t be able to pay you until next week, then your solution is to ask them for some up front. You’re smarter now that you’re older, and know how to manage your time and money.

Finally, if a friend tells you about an offer she’s received for a risqué-modeling shoot, but proceeds to explain that she barely knows the male photographer, chances are you’re going to help her confirm his website, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles to make sure he’s legitimate and that your friend is safe.

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6. You don’t fall for false flattery

You’re experienced, and you’ve met a lot of different types of people. You know the users, the flatterers, and the frenemies. You’ve learned to discern the difference between false flattery and genuine compliments, and no longer have an ego that needs constant boosting. The only compliments you value are the ones that come from the heart, and are genuine. These compliments mean the most to you when they are from someone you deeply care about.

7. You find yourself giving advice and sharing insights often

I mean often. Having been through some tough experiences yourself inclines you to give lots of advice to those who are still navigating their way through life. Although this can often times come off as annoying, controlling, or patronizing, those who know you will understand that it comes from a genuine desire to help.

8. You know with certainty what you don’t want

You take calculated measures to avoid these things. You’ve learned through mistakes to know what your deal breakers are and how to handle them.

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Featured photo credit: Girl from Behind With Fantasy Sky via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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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