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

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 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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