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6 Signs You’re Having A Quarter Life Crisis (And How to Overcome It)

6 Signs You’re Having A Quarter Life Crisis (And How to Overcome It)

It usually hits you in your late twenties and shakes you to the core putting undeniably in question the purpose of everything. You feel depressed and insecure with an ever-increasing desire to leave everything, run, and never look back. It is called a quarter life crisis, and it is as real and as tough as any other crisis. More often experienced by educated twenty and thirty-somethings with great aspirations and expectations that somehow didn’t came true, a quarter life crisis happens as they are trying to make a smooth transition into adulthood, resulting in them feeling stuck in between two worlds not quite belonging to either.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be stuck in this limbo forever. The most important thing is to take enough time to dig deep into your feelings so as to discover the signs so that you can work on overcoming them one by one.

1.You feel like being trapped by your job.

This one is a classic when it comes to the signs of a quarter life crisis. Whether you follow your career plan designed by your more enthusiastic and confident college-self, or you have awaken one day to realize that your temporary job solution isn’t so temporary four years later, you have that strong and unescapable feeling that you are stuck.

You disagree with anything your boss proposes, you can’t find the motivation to show up to work every day, let alone performing any demanding task, and the thought of yourself doing that work in the next ten years gives you a mild panic attack because it is not something you enjoy and feel passionate about.

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The sole reason this one is a classic is because so many people are experiencing it; so keep that in mind next time you feel like no one understands what you’re going through and try calling a friend. Talking and sharing with others can help you get closer, and at the same time you can get good and honest advice.

Yet, no one can make a decision for you. Even though you feel like quitting your current job, you should take some time to think and discover the real reasons for your unhappiness. In some cases, quitting is the only option possible, but try to find positive aspects of it before leaving it for good. Finding the right calling is a necessary, yet timely quest, so make sure you have some sort of safety net before you reach it eventually.

2.You don’t know what to say to your close friends.

All of a sudden you find yourself facing the world alone in a sense that the challenges and experiences you are having might not be the same as your friends’. You find your group drifting apart with no or little common ground, opinions, or values.

This doesn’t need to be the end of your friendship. Quite the contrary, you should share now more than ever, since it is by combining and comparing your different perspectives, that you get the most valuable lessons in life. You get the opportunity to relate on a deeper level now that you are not just friends by chance, but because you choose to.

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3.You realize it takes much effort to make your dream come true.

It is a harsh reality check when you see yourself still waiting for your life to take off and things to be the way they were supposed to before reaching the thirty milestone. We all make these scenarios by default without even stopping for a moment to question how much of it truly is our dream, and how much we have picked from our parents’ or society’s plans.

To overcome panic and disappointment that usually accompany this realization, you need to remind yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Try not to think of your road as full of mistakes, but see everything as a lesson and another step further to fulfilling your dreams. This way you won’t have to give up on your dreams, but you will be able to take the challenges one at a time feeling much more optimistic each step of the way.

4.You are worried about whether you make progress fast enough to be successful sometimes.

You give it all you’ve got, yet it still seems like you’re just getting by, constantly struggling with that panicky feeling of being too late for something. That something being your career goals. Your parents had their career figured out much sooner in their life, so it must mean that something is wrong with you.

We all get caught up in those dysfunctional thoughts when we start overthinking about the future and stop enjoying the now. The key is to stay calm and mindful so that you can take a better look at what you have achieved so far. By appreciating and giving yourself the credit for each accomplishment, you will start enjoying the process itself and the success will happen much faster.

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5.You can’t help comparing yourself with your friends.

And, somehow, they always win those “competitions”. You love your friends and want the best for them, but you cannot escape the feeling that their lives are perfect, their jobs much more fulfilling than yours, and their relationships more mature. Again, you feel helpless and alone in your struggles.

It is not easy not to compare yourself with others, especially your closest friends, whose lives you listen about so much. Yet, if you don’t want the comparing and analyzing to ruin your time together, you need to remind yourself that you are a unique human being with a unique life purpose and path.

You were never supposed to be like someone else, and that is the beauty of it. You can have similar experiences to share with your friends to help each other grow, but each of you has a unique standpoint and path to take. Let your friends’ journeys inspire and motivate you instead of making you feel less than.

6.You don’t feel happy even when everything goes smooth in your life.

If you still cannot decide if you are going through a quarter life crisis, this is an undeniable indicator. Everything has lined up for you – you are doing great at work, student loan is taken care of, you’ve got amazing group of friends, and your love life is surprisingly good and stable, yet you cannot help but wonder – is that all that is?

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Somehow, along the way, you have lost that thirst for life that you had in your early twenties, and you feel lost somewhere in-between, feeling not quite like your past careless self, and not yet like a fully-grown, responsible adult.

This is the trickiest one to tackle, but once you overcome it, you will feel more empowered and confident than ever. Going through a crisis this early in life helps you prepare for the next stage of adulthood and challenges it brings. You need to listen to your inner voice and find what it is that helps you relax and find gratitude. For some, it is spending time in nature with their pets, or re-discovering a hobby you enjoyed as a child, doing sports, doing anything that helps you disconnect from the usual busy routine and make you appreciate the little things in life.

Once you start setting aside some you time, you will transfer some of that appreciation into your “regular” routine and will find it much more enjoyable too. Finally, remember that you don’t need to have everything figured out all the time. It is perfectly normal to feel out of place at times, since that is the only way to find your true self.

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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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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