How to Sur­vive a Con­fi­dence Crash

Your 20s and early 30s are sup­posed to be packed with fun re­la­tion­ships, ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, and once- in- a- life­time op­por­tu­ni­ties. And for the most part, they will be. But new job pres­sures and the neg­a­tive ef­fects of so­cial me­dia can send your self-

Cosmopolitan (India) - - YOU, YOU, YOU - By Anna Davies

Gauri, 25, has been re­fused three pro­mo­tions over the last three years and is of­fi­cially freak­ing out. “The first time it hap­pened was in 2008. I thought, ‘ Okay, this sucks, but I can han­dle this’. But then it hap­pened again... and again. I feel so ashamed and don’t even know why I’m try­ing,” she says. Thanks to the still crappy eco­nomic cli­mate and a long list of per­sonal ex­pec­ta­tions, this feel­ing of ‘ What the *%# am I do­ing with my life?’ is be­ing echoed around the coun­try by young women who are strug­gling with suc­cess. And ex­perts say a stalled ca­reer is only one of the rea­sons so many mem­bers of the Mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion— usu­ally de­fined as peo­ple born af­ter 1980— are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to feel­ing lost when their lives don’t work out as planned. A break- up, a bad re­la­tion­ship with a boss or col­leagues, or even a fall­out with a friend can spur a crush­ing con­fi­dence crash.

“A lot of Mil­len­ni­als ex­pe­ri­ence what I call an ex­pec­ta­tion han­gover any­time life throws them a curve­ball,” ex­plains Los An­ge­les- based life coach Chris­tine Hassler, author of 20 Some­thing, 20 Every­thing. And it feels just as painful as a real one, com­plete with headaches, re­morse, and rolling waves of nau­sea— only it can last for months. Ex­perts be­lieve this ex­ag­ger­ated sense of dis­ap­point­ment is due in part to the un­wa­ver­ingly pos­i­tive feed­back 20- and 30 some­things have been given when they were younger, by their par­ents, fam­ily mem­bers, or teach­ers. Ac­cord­ing to Jean Twenge, Ph. D., pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at San Diego State Univer­sity and author of The Nar­cis­sism Epi­demic, stu­dents have been get­ting higher grades in the re­cent decades [ ver­sus the ’ 70s or ear­lier], and since the pop­u­la­tion couldn’t have be­come that much more bril­liant in 30 years, we can con­clude that there is a whole lot of grade in­fla­tion go­ing on— in­dica­tive of a shift in so­ci­ety where praise has be­come para­mount re­gard­less of per­for­mance.

In the real world, nei­ther bosses nor first dates are likely to go as easy on you as your school English teacher did, which can cause se­ri­ous ego de­fla­tion. “So many young women come into my of­fice and as­sume it’s cheer camp,” says NY- based Kelly Cutrone, pres­i­dent of Peo­ple’s Rev­o­lu­tion PR and author of Nor­mal Gets You Nowhere. “When I don’t praise them for ev­ery lit­tle thing, they get up­set.”

While these crashes are— deep breath— per­fectly nor­mal, you’re in no way help­less. Be­ing aware of the con­tribut­ing fac­tors ( be­yond your hor­ri­ble boss or the econ­omy) can help make it eas­ier to nav­i­gate through the dis­ap­point­ment. Be­lieve it or not, you can ac­tu­ally come out on the other side feel­ing stronger, smarter, and less likely to crash again.

Coun­ter­act the Face­book Rage

Not only are Mil­len­ni­als ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the prob­lem­atic side- ef­fects of too much praise, they’re also the first gen­er­a­tion to feel pres­sure to present a flaw­less, ide­alised im­age of them­selves via blogs, Face­book, and Twit­ter feeds. All these can trig­ger the con­fi­dence crash when there’s noth­ing good to re­port or, worse, a hu­mil­i­at­ing photo or less- than- flat­ter­ing piece of news

about your job or re­la­tion­ship sta­tus goes pub­lic.

On top of that, com­par­ing your­self to oth­ers— one of the main hob­bies of Face­book users ev­ery­where— mag­ni­fies mild feel­ings of in­ad­e­quacy into rag­ing self- doubt. For ex­am­ple, Gay­a­tri, 26, is an online re­searcher who feels her con­fi­dence tanks when­ever she logs on to the web­site. “See­ing friends clinch an amaz­ing new ti­tle makes me fume, and it’s hard to feel ex­cited about where I am in my own ca­reer,” she says.

Also con­tribut­ing to the con­fu­sion is the fact that to­day’s young women are so busy try­ing to fig­ure out what would im­press their FB friends and Twit­ter fol­low­ers, they have a harder time pin­point­ing their own true de­sires. “So many women treat life as a con­stant sta­tus up­date,” says Jane Buck­ing­ham, founder of the Mil­len­nial- fo­cused re­search firm, Tren­dera. “They’re think­ing about how their lives look in­stead of how their lives feel.”

Take Mona, 29, a so­cial- me­dia strate­gist. “Af­ter more than a few outof- con­trol nights, I knew the health­i­est thing for me to do was give my­self a break from par­ty­ing,” she says. “But I felt like Face­book was an ob­sta­cle. All my posts and pic­tures were of go­ing out. I felt like if I stopped, ev­ery­one would won­der why or think I wasn’t fun any­more. It seemed eas­ier to keep do­ing what I was do­ing.”

To com­bat the pres­sure to per­form, Buck­ing­ham sug­gests tak­ing a hia­tus from sta­tus up­dates so you’ll be able to dis­tin­guish what you’re do­ing for your­self from what you’re do­ing for your friends. Sec­ond, when you do re­turn to shar­ing, com­mit to keep­ing cer­tain things ( like your dat­ing life) off­line, and tweak your feed so you don’t have to see posts from fren­e­mies or any­one else whose up­dates make you feel bad. Fi­nally, di­vide your so­cial net­work­ing: use Linkedin to keep in touch with old co- work­ers, a Gmail Chat to stay con­nected with your friends, and any one photo- shar­ing site to up­load pics.

Se­crets to Hap­pi­ness

What you’d never guess from pe­rus­ing news feeds? No one ex­pe­ri­ences a non- stop stream of feel- good events. There are lulls in ev­ery­one’s life— they’re just not talk­ing about them on Face­book. “The more you get be­yond the ‘ Every­thing’s great!’ line we’ve been taught to say, the more you re­alise that ev­ery­one strug­gles oc­ca­sion­ally,” says Hassler.

Of course, the an­swer isn’t to sit

around and dwell on the fact that things suck for ev­ery­one some­time. “The ques­tion to ask your­self is how can you learn from your cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and change it for the bet­ter?” says Hassler. If you hate that the boss at your big com­pany barely knows your name, take it as a cue to fo­cus on smaller com­pa­nies dur­ing your next job search. If your friend was a stage­five clinger only to dump you when you were deal­ing with your own drama, be sure to choose new friends who have loy­alty as one of their top qual­i­ties. By fig­ur­ing out what didn’t work, you’ll be much less likely to fall into a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion down the line.

An­other must- do: in­stead of com­par­ing your­self to your peers who seem to have it all, try to learn from them. The smart girl who has a kick­ass ca­reer? Pick her brain over cof­fee. Or gather a group of friends for monthly brunch and life- strat­egy brain­storm­ing ses­sions. “By talk­ing it out rather than in­dulging in com­pet­ing, you’ll be able to iden­tify more so­lu­tions,” says Hassler.

Fi­nally, get dis­tracted. Sounds counter in­tu­itive, but ex­perts swear tak­ing a break from ob­sess­ing about your sit­u­a­tion is key to mov­ing on. Af­ter Kri­tika, 27, was dumped by her long- term boyfriend when she ex­pected to get en­gaged, she found her re­newed pas­sion in an un­likely source. “At first, all I could think about was how to get back to­gether. But then I be­gan tak­ing a dance class. I made a tonne of new friends, found a hobby, and be­gan dat­ing again.” Kri­tika’s MO was good be­cause she wasn’t fo­cus­ing on re­la­tion­ships— just some­thing she liked and ex­celled at.

In be­tween jobs? Take up kick­box­ing. Get­ting out of a long- term re­la­tion­ship? Go on a solo va­cay. “What you’re do­ing is break­ing the ob­ses­sive self- re­flec­tion,” says Penn­syl­va­nia- based Barry Schwartz, Ph. D., author of The Para­dox Of Choice. Giv­ing your mind a break from the same cy­cle of thoughts not only keeps you sane, but may also give you the drive you need to over­come a set­back by re­mind­ing you of all the things in your life you can do well.

It was at times like these, when the halfticket was cheaper, that she wished she was still seven

Just look­ing at the bloody thing made her dizzy

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