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A Letter To My 20-something Daughter

A Letter To My 20-something Daughter

Recently I was reading an article written by Whitney Fleming. It was a letter to her daughter before she heads into her teens. This got me thinking about what will happen when I have a daughter that is going through her 20s just like I am now. What will I want her to know?

To my daughter,

I write this letter to you as I am working through my 20-something years. There are some lessons I’ve learned and I hope that I can pass on my knowledge to you.

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1. Choose a career that matters to you

Sometimes it isn’t until you hit your 20-somethings that you really start to understand what matters to you. Take your passion and make it into a career. When you choose something you’re passionate about, you’ll never really feel like you’re working.

2. Don’t be afraid to open your heart

You will with no doubt have been burned by a love, if not more than one, by this point in your life. And while it won’t be easy to open up completely again to another person, just try. Don’t ever sell your love short because you’re afraid of getting hurt. You will get hurt over and over until you find the right one. And when you find the right one, it’ll all be worth it.

3. It’s ok to let go of friends

Friends, unfortunately, come and go. Sometimes they fade away, sometimes a fight will damage the best of friendships. But remember, you don’t need to hold on to everyone. Some people are meant to stay in your life, some are meant to teach you things, and some are meant to leave you with amazing memories. Take each situation as its own, so that you can learn and grow.

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4. Smile at your memories

Wether it’s losing friends or boyfriends, you’ve once had amazing times with these people. Don’t ever let anger or sadness of a situation ruin your memories. Let yourself smile when you remember these times because at one point, they were exactly what you wanted out of your life. And the good times can’t ever be erased.

5. Be indepepdent

Learn how to be on your own. Learn how to navigate directions, hang pictures, find studs in the wall, and cook. Become your own independent woman. No matter if you’re still living with me or a roommate or a boyfriend. Learn how to stand on your own two feet and know that when the cake burns, the picture rips out of the wall, or your get lost, you’ll be proud because you will be able to manage it all by yourself.

6. Don’t worry about money

There’s a secret to money. You’ll always need more and you will never have enough. So let what you have be enough. As long as you can pay your bills, eat, and keep yourself safe, you have enough. Don’t worry if others are going on vacation or have better cars than you. Your day will come for those things, too. Appreciate what you can afford.

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7. There’s no time limit for finding “the one”

I found the man I married at only 19 years old. But that doesn’t mean that if you’ve hit mid-way through your 20’s and you haven’t met him all hope is lost. Mr. Right will come for you when the time is right. Don’t rush it and don’t worry yourself looking high and low for him. You WILL find each other.

8. Embarrass yourself

I was always someone who was too timid to make a mistake. So afraid of making a fool of myself. You WILL make mistakes. You might over sleep and miss your class, or drink too much and dance on the bar. I’m not saying go wild, but I’m saying let yourself go. Embarrassing yourself is unfortunately life. And your 20s are usually the time when you’re exploring so much that you will make these embarrassing mistakes. So laugh it off and remember that it’s turning your face red now, but will make for some pretty funny stories one day.

9. Enjoy the present

Today is today. Tomorrow is tomorrow. I tell you this incase you forget to live for today not for tomorrow. You don’t know what life will hold for you in the future. It’s always smart to plan, but don’t stress over what will be. What will be will be, so embrace your present and live it to its fullest.

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10. I have been there, done that, and will help you through it

I was a 20-something myself years ago. I made mistakes, worried about the future, embarrassed myself, lost friends, had heartbreaks, and many other obstacles which you will no doubt go through as well. Talk to me. Even though you think I’m old and out of touch with life, I’ve been where you are. Never forget I’m your mother. I will love you unconditionally no matter what mistakes you make. I will give you advice when you seek it and I will listen when you want to cry. I will help you through.

I wanted to share something I’ve learned while I worked through my 20s but there are many more lessons about life that you will learn on your own. But remember your 20s have to be embraced. Explore life and enjoy every second. Just know there will always be a light on for you to come back home.

Love you always,
Mom

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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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