A lot of people are worried about being “normal” and making sure others think they are, too. They worry that they aren’t doing enough, succeeding as much as they should be or meeting high standards they can’t quite define. The day-to-day grind, coupled with pressure from social media, can cause many young adults to question their direction in life. Even established professionals with objectively successful careers and families of their own struggle to assert themselves or even meet their own needs. You can put an end to the struggle by learning how to speak up for yourself. It’s not always easy or even desirable, but by putting a voice to your feelings, you also speak to your self-worth.
Recognize the Challenge
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about self-confidence is that it always feels good. Being confident and speaking up for yourself won’t suddenly make you immune to negative feelings. You’ll still get embarrassed from time to time or feel awkward. We don’t live in a culture that makes talking about how we feel particularly easy, either. Many of us come from family backgrounds where emotional intimacy was never emphasized. So, give yourself some slack and know that even if it’s difficult, you’re still doing the right thing. Talking about how you feel to the right people helps you grow, develop better coping skills and take better care of yourself.
Build a Healthy Routine
How you live impacts how you feel. Bad habits may temporarily abate negative emotions, but they don’t resolve them. If you’re in college, there are many unhealthy behaviors that have become normalized in popular culture. For example, living off ramen and junk food because you’re young and don’t have a lot of money. It’s tough to concentrate on academics when you’re hungry. Coupled with pressure to perform well in school, you can begin to experience mental health problems that are hard to shake. You can review a guide on food insecurity among college students to learn more about what to do. In addition to eating three balanced meals a day, you should also eliminate excessive sugar and avoid trans and saturated fats. Sleeping enough, and getting help for any sleep problems, is tantamount to well-being.
Write Down What You Can’t Say
Sometimes, we don’t have the right audience for our emotions. In these cases, being open and vulnerable can actually lead to greater emotional pain. You need to trust whoever you confide in, otherwise you run the risk of feeling rejected, stupid or humiliated just for being honest. Maybe you do have a supportive group, but you still can’t bring yourself to start the conversation. If that’s the case, begin writing down what you wish you could tell somebody.
Journaling is an extremely cathartic exercise, and it can be done on your iPhone, in a trusted notebook or even scrawled on some scrap paper in your car on a lunch break. The added benefit of writing what you feel first is that you get to rehearse how you’d like to voice these emotions out loud. When we feel overwhelmed, it can be difficult to even grasp the full extent of what we’re going through in conversation. Take pause, and listen to yourself first. Then you can begin to share with others more easily because you understand where you’re coming from.