When filling in a form there can sometimes be a sense of dread when you reach the age question - which category do you fit into? You used to dream about being old enough to drive, drink and vote, but nowadays aging may leave you feeling anxious about not fitting in or missing out. Shape.com has shared some tips on how to feel comfortable in your own skin and not let the issue take over your life. New York-based therapist Melody Wilding recommends that you stop comparing your life to others the same age as you get older, as not everyone leads the same journey.
'I recommend thinking in one or five year plans'
“When you’re growing up, there are all these guideposts of where you should be at a certain age. [In America] you get a driver’s license at 16, graduate from high school at 18. But when you’re an adult, you and your peers are no longer following the same path,” she explained.
Just because a friend has settled down with a spouse and kids at 30 doesn't mean this is what you should be doing too - focus on yourself and whatever makes you feel comfortable.
The great thing about society these days is that boundaries have been broken. It's not considered embarrassing to be single in your mid to late '30s, and there's no limit as to when you should stop doing things (to a certain extent). So if you still have that urge to go travelling at 40, what's stopping you? Look to the future with confidence.
“I recommend thinking in one or five year plans, but not necessarily fixating them around a specific birthday,” career and leadership coach Julie Cohen added. “Imagine the life you want in five years, right down to the office you’ll be working in and the apartment you’ll have.”
Melody also recommends taking note of the accomplishments you've achieved up until this point in your life if you're feeling down or jealous of someone else's success. Events such as marathons, a work promotion or baking cupcakes for a wedding should be viewed in a positive light - and you've still got the future to do more!
Lastly, referring back to that dreaded form in which you're required to tick the age box and other lists in life (e.g. top 20 millionaires under 20 years old), don't let them get to you. Why do you feel this sense of bitterness towards younger/older people doing better than you? The sooner you address this, the faster you can concentrate on making a difference.
“Maybe it’s looking for a job in another field or heading back to graduate school, or maybe it’s prioritising your creative projects in your free time," Julie said. "Whatever it is, this will bring you out of the negative spiral of self judgment and help you take actionable steps toward the things you want in your life."
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