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How To Get Un-stuck From Feeling Stuck In Your Twenties

How To Get Un-stuck From Feeling Stuck In Your Twenties
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One thing that transcends time, space and geographical location, is the feeling of being stuck in your life. Many of us are in the midst of what some call the “quarter-life crisis” a crossroad between childhood, naivete and adult responsibilities.

While I do not consider this tumultuous period in your twenties as a crisis, it is a big enough issue to warrant consideration. Below are the ways to get un-stuck for twenty-somethings feeling stuck in their life.

Be Conscious of Your Internal Worth

Believing that your worth is hinged on the validation of other people.

Recognition, Awards, While they are some form of tangible evidence for work you may have done, they are still not an accurate representation of you worth, value, talent or success. Whether or not someone else tells you that you are doing a good job, it matters that the voice of recognition that you hold most dear is your own. You alone can know the hard work and dedication that you put into your life, so waiting for others to recognize should be barely a drop in the bucket.

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Refusing to be mindful of your finances, regardless of how small your bank account balance may be.

Now, I’m not saying become an extreme budgeter, a la Extreme Couponing or deny yourself the simplest of pleasures, however, your wallet might really appreciate if you were more careful about random shopping trips and frequent restaurant outings.

Money is definitely not all, but it is an unfortunate necessity to survive at the most minimal basis. We do not need to be a slave to it, but by seeking out simple financial strategies, you will be creating a much less tumultuous space for yourself.

Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

Making decisions based on fear or desperation.

Decisions made from periods of emotional uncertainty tend to result in life dissatisfaction later on. When we are faced with an empty bank account, the offer to pet-sit five cats despite your serious allergies might actually start looking good. When decisions are made because we are fearful of the outcome of our current circumstances, or desperate to attain something that we believe others are expecting us to, then we are not truly connecting with ourselves at the core.

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Decisions, regardless of circumstances, are better made from a place of thoughtful consideration. Your conscience and your sense of self will be all the better for it.

Staying focused on instant gratification, rather than long-term sustained happiness.

We live in a fast-paced world where trends and the collection of things that are new and must-haves are intertwined with how we view our position in the world. You can get, view and share things with the simple click of a button, our needs are satisfied before we can even complete the thought.

Instant gratification has become a way of life, but what we will soon come to understand is that focusing on the things that we can possess right now, or the places that our life can take us right now, is cutting us off from our potential for long-held satisfaction with life.

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As cliche as it may sound, nothing worth having comes easily. While that gig may give you a quick few bucks to blow on your next big dinner plans, holding out for that stable client who you can build a long-term relationship with can have you moving out of your dingy apartment in due time.

Being unsure how to rid yourself of toxicity in your life (people/places/situations)

Toxicity can pull at the fibers of your life force and have you constantly wondering why you are so drained. You may not notice it at first, but I encourage you to take the time to do a bit of self-reflection when you find yourself feeling a bit ‘off’ after an encounter with a particular person, or taking part in a certain activity.

Become more self-aware about your reactions to the world around you, and you will find yourself picking out shards of glass that you never knew were there before.

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The Myth Of Perfection

Placing more importance on perfection, rather than progression.

This is a concept that has personally left me feeling stuck for quite some time. For so long, I was so concerned with perfecting a story or polishing a project to its maximum potential, before even considering letting other people know about it, that I ended up stalled.

I was stalled by this myth that is perfection. My movements towards just getting something done, one small step at a time, was constantly overshadowed by the doubts that it needs to be perfect, and if I can’t make sure that it’s perfect, then there’s no sense doing it. A lesson well learned, is that progression, even with baby steps, trumps the crippling effects of perfectionism.

Waiting for the magical period of time where you are richer, fitter, and more popular to do what you have always wanted to do.

Do it now. Start where you are. You do not need to be privileged to take steps everyday towards doing the things that you have always wanted to do. Regardless of how fit, rich, or popular you are, you have the opportunity each day to make one move.

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There will never be a perfect time to start. If the issue here is perfectionism (as we touched on, in the previous item), then look at it this way: to do and make mistakes means that you are learning and growing.

Featured photo credit: D.L. Samuels via shotbydlsamuels.com

More by this author

Shanice J. Douglas, MSc.

Writer | StoryTeller | Founder, WittedRoots.com

How to Stop Your Mind from Going Blank in Any Stressful Situation How To Get Un-stuck From Feeling Stuck In Your Twenties

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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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