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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, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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