If you are in your twenties and feel like you have should have it all together but don’t, you’re not alone. Learning to navigate through young adulthood is exciting and freeing, but can be absolutely terrifying at the same time. The latter is especially true if you don’t have that perfect job lined up, your relationship is not going where you intended it to go, or you’re feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders from the sudden influx of responsibilities that just got thrown your way.
When we’re young, we imagine what our lives will look like when we’re adults, but when that vision doesn’t play out the way we intended, it can be way too easy to fall into a season of depression or complacency. An important nugget of hope to always remember if you may be feeling this way: it will all work out. Maybe not the way you envisioned when you were younger, maybe not the way you would particularly like and maybe not without a few bumps or uphill battles along the way, but everything will work out in the way that it is supposed to. Hopefully you can find a little solace in that.
A few things to consider when you’re feeling down about the direction of your life at the moment, or if you’re looking at the future with uncertainty:
- Be grateful for how far you’ve come. You were made for such a time as this and where you are is exactly where you are meant to be at this very point in time. Just think of all the obstacles and struggles you have been through to get to where you are, and remember YOU did that! No one else survived those storms in your life that once felt impossible. If you can overcome your past tribulations, you will survive the place your life is in now.
- Enjoy the moment you’re in. It’s so easy to become instantly overwhelmed when thinking about all the missed opportunities or things that didn’t work out. Instead of allowing those looming thoughts to dampen your mood, turn your thoughts to the place you’re in and savor every moment. Chances are, you won’t always be in this stage of life, so don’t waste it by waiting on the next stage to get here. In every situation you find yourself, set aside a moment to fully take it in, enjoy it and create memories that remind you of the GOOD that came out of this pitstop on the road to your future self.
- Talk to someone you trust. Regardless of what circumstances you’re in, speaking to someone you trust can make tough situations seem a little more do-able. Maybe he/she has been through what you are currently going through or maybe just a good listener. Either way, sometimes all we need is a listening ear or shoulder to lean on. A little word of encouragement or just the ability to share our heart is all that is needed to help us see our lives through a different lens and change our attitude about current circumstances.
So, you asked your date out and now you’re thinking….. “What on earth can we do on a low- or NO-budget?!” In a world of “prom-posals” and over-the-top destination dates, what is a young person to do?
The truth is, with a little effort, you can find a lot of budget-friendly options that you and your date will enjoy. Check out these easy date ideas that won’t break the bank while allowing you to have a great time and get to know your date in a no-pressure kind of way.
- Check out your local bike sharing station. You can rent bikes and return them at any number of vending locations. This is a great way to see your neighborhood differently. Or take a drive to a nearby city and use theirs!
- Make it a group date to the local thrift store – call out a 90’s theme with a $10 maximum. Everyone finds an outfit and then you wear them to go bowling together!
- Play a Monopoly game until someone wins. Play music (not TV) in the background. You’ll have fun conversations and learn a lot about your date’ business sense while doing it.
- Look up the events calendar of your local paper for free events like art shows, block parties, and festivals that you can go to together.
- Take a community education class together. It can be fun to decide this together, and a great way to learn each other’s interests.
- On a windy day, buy kids kites from a discount store and fly them in the park.
- If you have grandparents nearby, go on a double date with them to an ice cream parlor. Get some ice cream and ask how they met and what dating was like in their day.
Now, once you are on your date, what will you talk about? Below are a few conversation starters you can use if you get stuck with nothing to say:
- What fictional character most resembles yourself, and why?
- What cheesy song do you have memorized?
- If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be, and why?
- What is the best gift you have ever received, and why?
- Giant house in a subdivision or tiny house somewhere with a view?
The bottom line is, you don’t have to break the bank to go on a date, and don’t stress yourself out over what to do. Find something fun and just enjoy getting to know one another. And, realize that sometimes a date may not go according to plans… you planned to fly kites, but as soon as you got out in the open field, it started pouring rain? Ask your date to dance in the rain! Life is short; find joy in the small and big things. Dance, laugh and have a great date!
Do you have days where your insecurities will not leave you alone?
“You’re stupid. No one thinks you’re beautiful. People don’t like you. You’re a failure. You’ll never do anything right. No one will ever love you,” and on and on…
Most of us have this inner voice speaking these falsehoods on a regular basis. Even though we experience joys, achievements, and celebrations, we continue to feel inadequate.
Insecurity is very commonplace, even for individuals who seem incredibly confident. Underneath the facade, you will find uncertainty and doubt.
Did you know we are called a narcissistic generation? Technology and social media are giving us an inflated sense of self. The selfie – hello! Along with the usage of social media comes the constant struggle with comparison. Social media has a way of portraying all of the fun, exciting, and adventurous aspects of a person. However, it is a poor representation of reality and the struggles we all face.
Countless poor decisions are made from nothing more than insecurity. Sometimes we find ourselves doing things we would never do otherwise, all in an attempt to be accepted and liked. Many of us will do whatever it takes to be recognized by others, even if that means negative attention.
So how do we overcome insecurity? Robert W. Firestone, author of Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, says there are five important steps to overcome this inner voice.
- Step 1 – Vocalize your critical thoughts in the second person. For example, if you think, “I am so stupid,” vocalize or write down, “you are so stupid.”
- Step 2 – Reflect on where these thoughts may be coming from. Do they remind you of anyone or anything from your past? It is helpful to uncover the relationship between the voice attacks and your early life experiences.
- Step 3 – Write down realistic statements about who you really are. This could be hard at first because we can become so accustomed to the negative self-talk. Respond to them like you would if a friend was being attacked by these statements: with compassion and understanding.
- Step 4 – Start to make a connection between how the voice attacks are affecting your present day behaviors: relationships, work, school, etc.
- Step 5 – Make a plan to change the behaviors. For example, if these self-critical thoughts are keeping you from initiating a new friendship, it’s time to go ahead and do so anyways.
It will be difficult to change your critical inner voice at first, but with practice and persistence, you can overcome the negative thoughts by being proactive with the truth about who you really are. You have value and worth.
At Clarity Pregnancy Services and Clarity Testing Clinic, we often find teens, women and men who have struggled with insecurity. As a result, they have placed themselves in situations that have resulted in a pregnancy or STI scare. Know that when you come to Clarity for confidential help, you’ll receive more than a test. You’ll find individuals with compassionate hearts and listening ears. We are here to help remind you that you have value and worth. You matter, despite what situation you’re facing.
Are you thinking about dating? It can be a fun time to build a friendship with someone and to lay a foundation for a strong and healthy relationship. However, dating has the potential to lead to heartbreak when we dive in head first. What if there was a way to be more intentional with finding someone that had the qualities and characteristics we hope for in our future spouse? There are a number of things that can be done; spend time with people who share similar interests, form supportive relationships with both guys and girls, and create a list of attributes we hope for in a romantic partner.
The list could look something like this:
- Funny/good sense of humor
- A leader
List making employs our minds to think and reason. Waiting until someone comes along and says they are interested is dangerous because emotions can get in the way. Excited emotions tend to bully our minds into disregarding reason and logic. It is more than likely you have had a friend at one point that was dating someone, and no one could understand why. It may appear obvious to everyone else that they are unmatched, but they gloss over it or rationalize why it is okay.
So what types of things should be added to this list? The most important items to include are character traits. Everyone has character traits, both good and bad. Character traits are often shown with descriptive adjectives such as honest, brave, compassionate, etc. Take time to think about characteristics that are important to you. Here’s a link to get you started!
Another thing to consider while creating your list is how they treat others. How they engage with others is a reflection of their character, but it is also important enough to mention on its own. Some people are very good at acting pleasant when it is to their benefit, but observing how they treat their parents and siblings is a good indicator of how they may treat you. Are they honest with their parents, or do they frequently hide things? Do they treat their siblings unfairly or unjustly? These are signs of disrespect, dishonesty, and disregard for the feelings of those that love them. There is no romantic relationship that will change that.
Religion would be an additional beneficial component to consider. Faith may not play a crucial role in your life, but strive to date someone with the same core beliefs and value systems. Major challenges can form when this area is neglected.
What about physical characteristics? Although physical attributes should not be the sole focus of your list, attraction does play a role in a romantic relationship. Perhaps you hope to be with someone with kind eyes, a sweet smile, someone who is athletic, or taller than you. Focus on what is important to you, and not on what your friends, culture, or society says is attractive.
Creating a list allows you to take the time to truly contemplate what you hope for in a future partner. Focus on the majors, and revisit your list from time to time. As you continue to grow and mature, you may find that there are things you no longer view as essential. Or maybe you will end up adding characteristics to your list as time goes on. As you create and edit your quality list, remember to continue developing your own character and personality. Strive to be the type of person that is able to enter into any relationship with maturity, compassion, kindness, and good intent for others.
If you are currently in a romantic relationship, consider the following questions:
- Do you have to look and act your best around this person?
- Do you feel comfortable and free to be your genuine self?
- Is your relationship based primarily on how you feel?
- Has your relationship taken the time to grow, develop, and mature?
- Does your partner take into account you and your needs?
- Have you neglected other areas of your life as a result of this relationship?
- Do you continue to pursue your own interests and identity?
- Is your relationship based on the physical aspect?
- Does it encourage a deep connection?
- Are you or they obsessive, possessive, or jealous?
- Do you both practice understanding and trust?
- Is commitment involved, or do you continually worry about the relationship?
Love and infatuation are both intense emotions that one feels for another. Many times people feel like they are in love, but in fact, their feelings are nothing more than infatuation. Infatuation is the state of being completely lost in the emotion of unreasoning desire. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection, and is based on time and concern for the other person’s needs.
Love says, “I will never hurt you; I will never use you; I will never abuse you; you will be a better person because I love you.” Think about the people in your life you claim to love. Are they better off because you are in their life? Are you better off because they are in yours? These questions give us all something to think about and work on.
Most of what happens in a relationship is not physical or sexual. Healthy relationships include working together, talking, laughing, arguing, having mutual friends, and enjoying outings. If we want to have healthy, satisfying relationships that last, we need to make sure they are not based on feelings, but on choosing to love someone for who they are.
What qualities would you like in a friend/date? Do you hope to be with someone that is respectful, caring, kind, a good listener, trustworthy, and faithful? Do you have these qualities? When you work on being a healthy person yourself, you will attract healthy people into your life. Infatuation is counterfeit love. When you work on your character qualities, your relationships will be healthier because you will be healthier.
Think about fire for a second. Fire is both useful and enjoyable when kept in its proper place. We count on and use fire to light, cook, fuel, heat and protect. Inside a fireplace or within certain boundaries, fire is helpful and can also evoke a pleasurable, emotional response. Outside the protective boundary of the fireplace, it is damaging, destructive and frightening. Fire, is really just like sex.
Sex, similarly, inside the boundaries of a caring, committed relationship of marriage is both useful and pleasurable. Sex is a means to procreate, bond a couple together in a unique way, and bring pleasure to the couple involved. Outside of marriage, where there is no established respect, trust or commitment, sex is also damaging and destructive. Beyond the physical consequences of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection or disease, there are equally destructive emotional, social, mental and ethical costs. Low self-image, guilt, shame, regret, embarrassment, humiliation, heartbreak, tarnished reputation, loss of relationships, loss of trust, and fear are some of the very real issues regularly associated with sexual activity outside of marriage. Just like the fire needs boundaries to contain it, we also should protect ourselves and our sexuality by carefully and holistically placing protective boundaries to guard every aspect of our sexuality.
Holistic means encompassing all of something, or the whole, not just a part. Clarity uses the whole person circle (shown to the right), a holistic understanding, to explain the five components by which we exist:
- Physical – our material existence
- Mental – our ability to reason and think
- Emotional – our ability to empathize and sympathize
- Social – our ability to relate and establish connections with others
- Ethical – our value system of faith, or understanding of right and wrong
As humans, we are more than just physical bodies. There are four other parts to our whole self that need to be guarded just as much.
When we discuss holistic boundaries, we are referring to a set of limitations to protect ourselves in every aspect of our being. When sex affects every part of our being, we need to be protective of each of those parts, not just the physical part. The use of birth control, such as condoms, spermicides, pills and shots, is only able to provide limited physical protection from unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection and disease. Because we are more than physical people, we need more than physical protection. In fact, if you look at the diagram above, the limited physical protection that birth control provides will only protect one fifth of a whole person.
So what can you do to protect the other four-fifths of yourself? Set boundaries. YOU are worth protecting and respecting.