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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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