Advertising
Advertising

Useful Advice for Your 14-Year-Old Self

Useful Advice for Your 14-Year-Old Self

How many times have you mused about the wisdom you would have liked to be privy to when you were a teenager? If you had an opportunity to hop in a Tardis and scoot back to have a heart-to-heart chat with your 14-year-old self, what advice would you give (assuming that the younger you would listen)? It’s more than likely that we’d all have different bits of guidance that we’d share with our younger selves, but these are 14 tips that I’d personally try to encourage a teenage “me” to consider seriously.

1. You Are Amazing Exactly As You Are

Ignore what other people want you to be, expect you to be, or encourage you to be. There is only one YOU in the entire universe, and you’re perfect just as you are. Don’t try to act like someone else or look a certain way just to make others happy: just be the most authentic you that you can be. Period.

2. Start Doing Yoga Now

Trust me, in twenty years, your body will thank you a thousand times over for having established a solid yoga practice while you’re in your teens.

Advertising

3. Stay Present

Whether it’s through mindful meditation practice, keeping a stone in your pocket that you squeeze when your imagination starts to run wild, or through another technique that works best for you, learn to be in the present moment as much as possible. Let go of stupid crap as soon as it happens, and don’t dwell in “what if?” land: the past is ash and the future doesn’t exist. All we ever have is the current moment, so learn to inhabit it fully and you’ll never have to deal with anxiety about future events, or depression over what may have happened last week.

4. Stand Up for Yourself, But Also Stand Up for Others

It’s important to have a strong sense of self, but it’s just as important to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. This could be as simple as defending someone in your school who’s being bullied, or you might want to get involved in activism to help animals, the homeless, or a different cause that you believe in. Your voice carries far more weight than you can imagine.

5. Learn As Much As You Can

Knowledge can never be taken from you, and the more you learn, the more it will help you in life. Learn languages, learn to cook, to code, to can vegetables. Turn off the TV and go do some free classes, or read articles and books, or even spend some time learning from your grandparents. You’ll treasure this knowledge in the future, trust me.

Advertising

6. Ignore Other People’s Opinions About You

The only person whose opinion matters is you. End of discussion. Other people can think whatever they like, but just because someone thinks something, doesn’t mean that it’s true, or valid, or should have any impact on how you live your life. There may be people who think that the Earth is flat, but just because they have an opinion about a subject doesn’t mean they’re right, or that you’re required to share said opinion.

7. Love Deeply, But Also Know When to Let Go

Love is a beautiful thing, but people change, and so do intimate relationships. There will be many crushes in your lifetime; many opportunities to have incredible connections with people, and each relationship has its life span. All things come to an end, and it’s far healthier to learn how to let go with grace than to cling to something that’s unhealthy just because you’re afraid of losing it.

8. Keep People In Your Life Who Enhance Your Life

Just as it’s important to recognize when it’s time to end a romantic relationship, it’s also vital to realize that friendships can have limited life spans as well. People can come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, and they’ll grow close/drift apart like the tides. When relationships no longer work, end them with love and respect, and move on. Friendships can grow toxic, and it’s important to recognize warning signs of friendship deterioration, and act accordingly.

Advertising

9. Avoid Hazardous Situations

Don’t play red rover on train tracks at night, don’t have unprotected sex, don’t walk home alone after dark. Be sensible, realize that irresponsible actions can have dire consequences, and use common sense.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

We all need help on occasion, and there’s always someone who’s willing to help you if you reach out to them. Never feel that you’re totally alone, especially when dealing with a difficult situation. It’s okay to be vulnerable, and it’s more than okay to talk to someone you trust when you’re going through hell.

11. Try Your Best

This mostly applies to school, but it can also refer to extracurricular activities. High school sucks, but it’s over in a few short years, and what you do with your time there can have major influence on the rest of your life. Try your best to do well in your classes, switch schools if the curriculum and atmosphere in your current school aren’t right for you, and take advantage of opportunities as they come along.

Advertising

12. Travel, If You Can

If you have the opportunity to do a foreign student exchange program, do it: it’ll widen your worldview exponentially.

13. Be Kind

Remember that acts of kindness are remembered and appreciated for a lifetime. How do you want to be remembered by your peers? Think of amazing, wonderful things that others have done for you, and how they’ve made you feel, and then pay the beauty forward.

14. Remember That Sharing DNA Doesn’t Always Equal “Family”

For some people, the family that they’ve been born into isn’t anywhere close to supportive. Some are neglectful, some are cruel and abusive, and some try to be functional but just can’t be. Some people find their “family” as they move through life, while others are fortunate enough to be born into a group that they mesh with well. Treasure those whom you consider family, and never put up with any measure of cruelty from someone just because you happen to be related to them by blood.

More by this author

10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of 20 Online Resources for Free E-Books 10 Books to Help You Polish Your English & Writing Skills 10 Things That Even You Can Do to Change the World

Trending in Communication

1 How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward 2 What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships 3 How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 4 This 4-Year Old Girl’s Explanation On the Problem with New Year’s Resolutions Is Everything You Need 5 What You Really Need to Feel Secure in a Relationship

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next