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15 Reasons Why Your 20s Are the Worst Period of Your Life

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15 Reasons Why Your 20s Are the Worst Period of Your Life

What’s that you say? The 20s were the best part of your life? Well, maybe that was the case a few decades ago, but nowadays, being in your 20s is about as fun as having a pop quiz in a physics class. Perhaps that’s pushing it a bit, but you get the point. I’m sure every generation complains about the problems they have to deal with, and mine is no different. Below you’ll find a list of things that I, and other 20-somethings, complain about on a daily basis. If you are also in your 20s, I hope you’re nodding a lot and/or tearing up as you read this. If you’re older, or younger, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two!

Without further ado, let’s begin:

1. Nobody respects you.

It’s sad, but true. I don’t mean to say that there is an actual reason for people to respect us 20-somethings, just that nobody actually does, regardless. Just think about it logically for a second. Teenagers don’t respect anyone, least of all people maybe half a decade older than them. People in their 30s and beyond look at us like adults with training wheels strapped to our sides. I think the only segment of the population we actually garner some respect from is grade schoolers, but to them anyone over 16 seems like an adult so that’s a moot point.

2. You’ll probably be living with your parents for most of it.

This is actually a smart thing to do because, unless you come from a loaded family, you won’t really have the funds to go out and buy your own place straight out of college. I mean, you could be one of the lucky ones to get an awesome salaried position straight out of your senior year, but most of us aren’t that lucky. I don’t think I really need to explain why living with your parents can be annoying. Just think back to your teenage years. The fact that we have to go back to it after four years of relative freedom doesn’t help either.

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3. Your parents will get on your nerves.

Yeah, your living situation in college might not have been amazing, what with weird roommates, loud music emanating from everywhere day and night, and the smell of a certain green substance wafting through the air at all hours. But still, it beats getting nagged on by your parents every day for one thing or another. If you’re in college right now, enjoy the ride. You’ll miss it when it’s done, no matter how crappy you think you have it right now.

4. You’ll have more freedom than you can handle.

By this I mean that your life is no longer structured. After 21 to 22 years of life in the system, breaking out of it and having free reign over what you do and where you go next can be intimidating.

5. Your college accomplishments mean little.

I don’t mean in the sense that your degree is worthless, only that employers and people around you don’t really care about all of the hard work you did in college. You could have been an amazing student, and professors might have loved you, but in the real world you’re basically back to square one in terms of having to impress a whole new set of people.

6. It’s hard to make friends.

Maybe this is just me since I’m an introvert, but it has been tough making friends after college. You no longer have easy access to a wealth of people around your same age, and all of your high school and college friends are scattered like dust in the wind. I’m sure it gets easier later, but when you’re first starting out it’s a bit of a painful process.

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7. College debts come due at the worst possible time.

In the midst of all of this post-college angst, your debts start coming due just when you think you’re starting to get a hang of things. I suppose we can thank Janet Napolitano and other college administrators making upwards of $500,000 for the insane amount of debt my generation is in. The good news is that the existence of all this debt has an upside: it means we’re a highly educated bunch! Well, supposedly at least (jury is still out on me). So while we may start off underwater, we have the tools to come out on top.

8. Older generations take advantage of us.

Let’s face it, older folks basically control the lives of us millennials. This isn’t to demean them, it’s just a fact of being young. Every generation goes through a period of subordination. Just look at it this way: in 20 years we’ll be the ones pulling the strings! I’m not sure whether that fact pleases or frightens me…

9. So much is expected of you.

Despite the fact that most people in their 20s are in debt, struggling in this terrible economy, and being exploited by older generations, we’re still expected to go out there and succeed regardless of the obstacles in front of us. And I suppose that is a good thing, because the greatest generations are forged in adversity.

10. We’re coming of age in a stagnant economy.

Yes, this is no Gilded Age or Great Depression we’re inheriting, but it’s still one of the worst economies in American history, especially for folks in their 20s. We have to deal with corporate greed, college debt, an aging population (we have to pay for retired folks’ healthcare and social security) and, in many ways, the decline of American supremacy on the world stage. But as a history major, I can tell you that trends like these are fleeting at best. Like I said above, we’re an educated, dedicated bunch. I’ve seen it in my peers and my former students. We’ll make the best of it; I’m sure of it!

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11. Our youth is wasted on constant worrying.

Thanks to all of the stresses placed on people in their 20s, I expect us to either become a tough-as-nails generation, or one that collapses under all of the pressure. I’m hoping for the former, but even so it will mean that our youth was wasted on fixing other people’s messes rather than forging our own futures, which is slightly depressing.

12. Physical decline begins.

They say you reach your athletic peak around 28, and from there it’s all down hill. Some might even peak earlier, just ask LeBron. Those of you in your early 20s should probably make use of your spryness while you can.

13. Your childhood pet will probably die.

This one is hard to write. I haven’t lost my first dog yet, but she’s definitely getting up there in the years and there’s a near 100% chance she’ll pass away before I turn 30. This is the case for most of us, and it’s just another emotional hurdle we need to jump over in our 20s.

14. You lose your imagination.

Once you turn 20, you start thinking like a “real” adult. In other words, you stop being as amazed by things as you were in your youth. At least for me, this meant I stopped enjoying video games as much as I used to, because the stories no longer impressed me as much as they did when I was a child (or maybe that’s just because my favorite company Bioware has yet to recreate the magic that was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic). Alright, so perhaps “losing our imagination” is too harsh in the wording. It’s more like we become jaded as we get older, and that this process starts in your 20s. But hey, being jaded can be fun! This is when we finally get to start saying stuff like, “those crazy teenagers and their parties” or “back in the 90s we watched cool shows!”

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There is, of course, one foolproof way to both keep from becoming jaded and maintain your whimsical imagination. Watch Doctor Who! I’m probably closer to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock in personality more than anything, but Doctor Who has kept me on the proverbial straight and narrow. Maybe it’ll work for you too?

15. Time starts to go by faster.

I never believed this was true as a kid, but adults really were right when they said time goes by faster the older you get. I’m not sure exactly why, maybe because life in your 20s become more about maintaining daily routines than about drastically changing the things you do (e.g., switching to a new grade in school or going off to college). I know that since I graduated college the days seem to bleed into each other far more than they did previously. Maybe I just need to get out more?

Just because your 20s might not be that great, it doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have some fun while you’re dealing with all of the crap the world throws at you! While we have it harder than the previous generation (I am seriously envious of the lack of college debt baby boomers had and the fantastic economy they grew up in), we can still make the best of it, and be better for it. Who knows, with a little perseverance and elbow grease, we just might be the next “greatest generation.” Here’s hoping!

Featured photo credit: summer holidays, education, campus and teenage concept – group of students or teenagers hanging out via shutterstock.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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