And while no one is immune to this internal tug-of-war, new research published in the journal Psychological Bulletin shows that self-assurance (much like a fine wine) does, in fact, get better with time.
Researchers looked at data from a total of 164, 868 participants across 331 different studies and found that people’s confidence grew steadily (with a brief pause during the teen years) until the age of 60. They then tended to spend the next decade riding the self-love high.
“Midlife is, for many adults a time of highly stable life circumstances in domains such as relationships and work,” Ulrich Orth, the study’s co-author and a professor of psychology at the University of Bern told TIME.
“Moreover, during middle adulthood most individuals further invest in the social roles they hold, which might promote their self-esteem. For example, people take on managerial roles at work, maintain a satisfying relationship with their spouse or partner, and help their children to become responsible and independent adults.”
And as for 70 onwards? Things start to decline slightly.
“Old age frequently involves loss of social roles as a result of retirement, the empty next, and, possibly, widowhood, all of which are factors that may threaten self-esteem,” Orth explained. “In addition, ageing often leads to negative changes in other possible sources of self-esteem, such as socioeconomic status, cognitive abilities and health.”
The good news? These factors don’t take much of a toll on our mental state until we reach 90.
“Many people are able to maintain a relatively high level of self-esteem even during old age,” Orth said.