• nicole calder

over the years i've had countless friends who seem to experience an existential crisis when they near the age of 30. at the time, which was my early 20s, i could never comprehend the feeling. i was content with my life, my direction, my identity. i was in the process of completing a bachelor of science in psychology, i was working as a waitress, i was coaching, playing tennis, indoor soccer, and i was living in another country. i was living. and i had my entire 20s to continue doing so. fast forward 8 years and those feelings of contentment have all but dissipated.

i am now 29. i quit my job at the start of the year to pursue writing a book that i've wanted to write for 7 years. i'm trying to promote a business of equipping individuals with skills to better support others. i'm in a healthy, stable relationship. and i'm still playing soccer. but i'm severely unfulfilled.

when i reflect on my 20s, i start to question, what have i done? what have i achieved? what am i doing now, that i wasn't doing nearly 10 years ago? what have i learnt? how have i grown and developed?

when i project into my 30s, i become paralysed with fear. is this what i want the rest of my life to look like? is this the business i want to run for the rest of my life? if not, what else are you going to do? how can you live a life of meaning? how long are you going to keep playing soccer for? when do you think you're going to travel? when are you going to start thinking about kids? when are you going to grow up?

i always knew i didn't want to work a 9-5 because i struggle with monotony. that's why i preferred restaurant work over cafe work - the hours were stable, but unpredictable. it wasn't the same thing every day. but when i look to the future, that sense of stability sounds appealing. i've now been unemployed for over three months and the daily internal conflict i'm fighting is consuming me. the worst part is, i don't know what the solution is. returning to hospitality seems a logical suggestion, but a mind-numbing one. i left hospitality to do more. to be more. but what that more looks like, i've been struggling to answer.

the prospect of turning 30 is daunting. not only are there societal expectations of having your life together, but there's a biological clock of having kids. not just your own biological clock, but those of your parents too. having kids early enough so they can actively enjoy being grandparents. i fully acknowledge putting pressure on yourself is counterproductive in finding fulfillment, but without the distractions in my life that i have formerly had, i'm left with not much more than my thoughts.

so it's safe to say, i think i'm experiencing my own existential crisis.

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  • nicole calder

a few weeks ago, a situation came up between my partner and me. my partner was trying to explain her perspective and her reasoning, but no matter how much i wanted to understand, i just couldn't.

in retrospect, i suspect my inability to understand and to empathise was hindered by a fog of pain. i was able to rationalise her perspective, but i wasn't able feel her perspective. my head understood, but my heart did not. my heart was hurting.

in the moments of silence between our conversations, i found myself continuing to reflect on this situation. why can't i let this go? why does it bother me so much? but these questions were often answered with reaction and defensiveness; i was trying to justify my hurt. i wasn't able to see past my pain, no matter how much i wanted to. so how did i get past that block?

from a different situation. my mum received a message from someone she hadn't heard from in a while and i saw how much it meant to her. in that moment, i was able to see what my partner was trying to communicate; i finally understood her perspective. would i have been able to understand if i hadn't see this reaction from my mum? probably not. because i had a block with my partner; i couldn't see past my pain - no matter how much i wanted to. and sometimes, that's life. sometimes no matter how much you want something, you need something else, something not within your control, in order to achieve your desired outcome.

i've written about this with regards to hard work - often we need more than just hard work to achieve our goals; we need luck and an opportunity. in this situation, i needed more than just a willingness to understand. i needed a comparable situation; an opportunity. and i was given that. but i also had the openness and willingness which when combined with the opportunity allowed me to achieve the desired outcome; to understand.

sometimes just having the willingness is not enough. sometimes we need an opportunity too. quite often though, these opportunities are not within your control - all you can control is your receptiveness to them when they finally present. so how are you being open to those opportunities within your own life? and how can these opportunities help you to understand something in other areas of your life in which you feel stuck?

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  • nicole calder

my new year's resolution was to get my screen time to under 30minutes a day. the closest i got was 36minutes for a week. every other week, i've been between 1 and 2 hours. although i've significantly reduced my screen time, i still feel like a failure. why is it so hard to limit our screen time?

for many reasons. the first being the system lies. see, even if your phone isn't with you, but you receive notifications, each notification counts as screen time. so if you have message reminders, that's two lots of screen time your phone is docking you for. i've frequently reflected on my screen time and i can't understand it - when i've added up the individual categories compared to the total screen time, there's often a significant discrepancy. where is this extra screen time supposedly coming from? from notifications. from phone calls. from your phone lighting up.

if you have apple car play in your car, beware, that will also increase your screen time. even though the app is designed so you don't use your phone, which you won't need to, it will still count as screen time. when it connects to spotify? ding! screen time. gps navigation? ding! screen time. message notification? ding! screen time.

the addition of the screen time feature on the iphone is a cruel device. this feature gives the illusion that reducing your screen time is entirely within your control; everything on the phone is designed to help you achieve your goal...isn't it?

app restrictions - a great idea, but so easy to ignore. screen time - a great idea, but so easy to ignore. these big tech companies want you to fail. they've even designed these 'helpful' features with the intent to make you feel bad and fail. because if you fail, that means more screen time. more screen time means more money. once you've reached your limit, you're more likely to just say 'fuck it' and keep using your phone. a 'helpful' feature would be to have your phone cut you off, but why would they design these apps to help you? these big tech giants don't care about your life time, they care about your screen time.

we're all addicted to our phones. but it's not our fault. our weaknesses have been exploited for money; the root motivator of capitalism. the only way to 'beat' the system, is to not use the system at all. humans don't have the willpower not to use that which they have access to. that's why alcoholics aren't allowed alcohol in the house. so if you want to reduce your screen time? leave your phone at home and turn off your notifications. it's time to take control of our lives again.

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