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Every 20-Something Needs To Accept These 20 Things

Every 20-Something Needs To Accept These 20 Things

Whether you call it “emerging adulthood” or nothing at all, the 20s are a time of growth and development. (Seriously though, your brain is still developing.) With all that’s being said about Generation Y, one thing is clear. The 20-somethings of today are vastly different from those of earlier generations. As a fellow 20-something (quickly pushing 30), here are some things that I think my fellow 20-somethings need to accept.

That as long as there are 20-somethings who take their time going through the milestones of “adulthood”, there will be 50-somethings worrying and complaining about it.

Unfortunately, it seems Generation Y is a popular target for criticism, often times voiced as concern and even curiosity these days. But if we think back to the children of the ‘60s and ‘70s, we should also think of how they were also criticized. The moral here? To quote Jay-Z, “Go and brush your shoulders off”.

1. You’re Not Old

Yes, you may be naturally inclined to wake up earlier on the weekends. Yes, most of the pop stars are younger than you (but only by like two years, calm down). And yes, people born in 2000 are teenagers now. Does that make you feel old? Definitely. But does it mean you’re actually old? Nope.

2. You Need To Budget

If you’ve already gotten this one figured out – congratulations. You’re a step ahead of a lot of others in our grand Generation Y (myself included). It can be pretty hard to start a budget. Especially if you’re just starting out on this grand adventure some like to call “adulthood”. Sticking to your budget can seem as tedious as waking up consistently at 6 am, but in the long run you’ll be very happy you did – on both aspects.

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3. Your Real Life Does Start Now

I mean, technically real life started the moment you were born. But I’m talking about building a strong foundation for future you. It’s not going to happen overnight on your 30th birthday, it’s something you’ve got to start doing in your 20s. Yes, this is a time to explore what you really want from life and travel, but this is also a time to start investing in your career.

4. You Will Not Always Be Comfortable

You may lose your job, you may lose a family member, or you may have to move back home. You may have to ask for help, but everyone needs help from time to time. Swallow your pride and ask. It may be even as small (hah) as getting a zit the size of Mount Everest. Accept who you are and what you have. Know that life isn’t always going to be perfect. Roll with the uncomfortable situations that life sends your way, because….

5. You Know It Can Always Be Worse

Do you have a roof over your head? Friends and family to comfort you in times of need and celebrate with you in times of joy? What about food to eat? Just remember, no matter how bad it seems it can always be worse. If you think it can’t get any worse, than it will eventually only get better. Accept the worst parts of life, whatever that may be for you, for what they are. Embrace them as much as you embrace the good. Just know, nothing in your life is permanent.

6. You Must Take Risks

Not taking a risk is just as risky as taking a one, so why not try? Risks are scary, especially if the outcome is uncertain. Some of the most successful people wouldn’t be where they are today if they hadn’t taken a chance on themselves or their ideas. It may take time and hard work, but wouldn’t you rather fail having tried then living your life thinking “what if”?

7. You Will Change and So Will Other People

Everyone changes. You’re not the same person you were two years ago and neither are your friends. Accept this and take it for what it is. You may drift apart from some friends, but that is all a part of growing and evolving and riding this crazy thing called life. People come in and out of your life for a reason, rather than dwelling on their leaving focus on what you’ve gained from the experience.

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8. You Don’t Have to Buy It

Seriously, debt is not fun. It affects almost all aspects of your life, from renting an apartment to buying a car. I mean, 46% of 20-somethings have student loan debt, 42% have credit card debt, and 30% have auto loans. So why add on to those statistics? If you want to build your credit with a credit card, you should only buy what you could pay for already. Do you really need the box set of that TV show? Chances are, not really.

9. You Live For You

Everyone is living their own lives at their own paces. Milestones are reached at different places in everyones life. So what if your parents had success at 26? The times were drastically different then. Your friend recently had a child and got married? Be happy for them, but don’t compare your milestones to theirs. Comparing yourself will get you nowhere. Hard work, dedication, and time will.

10. You Will Fail

You will fail and it will suck. It may be the first time you’ve ever failed at something and it may make you feel like you never want to try again. Don’t let it dishearten you. Take the failure in stride and turn it into motivation to succeed and get where you want to be.

11. You Must Eat Well

The habits we develop in our twenties will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Yes, pizza is heaven on earth. I could live off of it too, but I won’t. Start implementing positive diet changes in your life now and you’ll be grateful you did. It’s easier to prevent a health problem than it is to treat it.

12. You Must Sleep

It’s OK to go to sleep early and wake up early. It doesn’t make you ‘old’. We’re more productive in the early hours of the day, so why not take advantage of that with a full nights rest?

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13. You And Your Friends Will Have Less Time For Each Other

Whether it is because of traveling, starting a career, or starting a family, you and your friends will have less time for each other. Make time for each other, but don’t take it personally if they aren’t able to go to the bars every weekend.

14. You Need New Benchmarks

The benchmarks of adulthood used to be: finish school, leave home, get a job, get a spouse and start a family. More and more, these milestones are being reached in a different order or not at all. Take your parents concern in stride, but know that you are on par with your fellow Millenials no matter what stage of “adulthood” you’re at.

15. Your Family Does Matter

Harvard studied two groups of people, those that remained close to their siblings and those that did not. They found that those happiest later in life were ones that had remained close to their siblings.  I believe that this should be applied to the family we choose as well. Keep in contact with all of your loved ones, be it blood related or not, and see the benefits of unconditional love positively affect your life.

16. You Need Love

Love is scary and unsure and almost every other feeling I could possibly list. Don’t be afraid of all the bad that can happen when you fall in love. Take it as an opportunity to grow closer to someone than you’ve ever been before. It may end badly, it may not. Either way, you will grow and learn from experiences that you never would have had if you didn’t take a chance on love.

17. You Must Read Every Once In A While

Want to get into someone’s mind? Open a book. Reading helps as an escape, broadens your mind (and maybe even your vocabulary), and helps you gain a glimpse into another persons mind in a way you can get nowhere else.

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18. You Should Be Alone Sometimes

Find yourself. Embrace yourself. Be truly alone for a little while and realize that it is not the monster under your bed you once thought it was.

19. You Will Be Unappreciated and Disappointed

Often, when we come into adulthood — and out of our parents’ house, we expect the world to fix things the way they would have. Unfortunately, adulthood doesn’t come with gold stars and stickers for a job well done. Get used to this. You must reward yourself and appreciate a job well done on your own. Need a quick me up? Go buy some gold stickers!

20. Your Talent Is Overrated

This may seem harsh, but it is true. You could be the most talented person in your field, but you cannot get anywhere on talent alone. Accept this and work hard to harnessing your talent to get you to the place you would like to be.

Featured photo credit: Eunice / plaits via flickr.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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