how to live a better life with your phone

A Twentysomething Guide to Digital Minimalism

Millennial:

Baby Boomers: IT’S THOSE GODFORSAKEN PHONES!!!!!!

Popular media sources love to pigeonhole us into a generation of ‘phone addicted snowflakes’. And yes, we spend an ungodly amount of time staring at our screens. But we sometimes forget that our phone and social media can help make us happier, healthier, and more educated!

Let’s start here: technology isn’t intrinsically bad for you. Nor is it intrinsically beneficial. It all depends on how we use technology. Sometimes it seems as technology controls us, and it’s important to remember that we are fully in control of our digital experience.

So, instead of advocating for completely unplugging (although this can be nice from time to time), I believe that anyone can learn how to use technology in a way that supports their goals and values, and creates a positive digital experience.

Here’s how:  

1 | Take a mental note each time you catch yourself aimlessly scrolling

There’s something so addictive about scrolling through our social feeds that we won’t even stop after doing a full circle and seeing the same old content again. Reaching an end point provides a sense of control (I mean, why would you even consider going to the second page of Google results?). By infinitely scrolling, we never encounter such a trigger, and our brain has to process more information than it can handle, often leaving us a little disoriented and fatigued after snapping out of it.

The first step to un-learning this habit is to simply take a moment when you realise you’re doing it. Ask yourself: “Am I benefitting from this at the moment?” If the answer is no, you’ll notice that it’s suddenly a lot easier to put down your phone.

via GIPHY

2 | Turn off your notifications

You own your phone, not the other way around. And I get it, who doesn’t like to distract themselves from other tasks by checking what memes they were tagged in? By doing so, however, you create the idea you’re expected to be available 24/7, and that can be stressful. Why not turn off your notifications and reply at a moment that suits you better, while at the same time reducing your screen time?

3 | Go through unanswered texts before going to bed

Ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking “SHIT I HAVEN’T REPLIED TO THIS PERSON”? (I have it all the time because I suck at replying). Disconnecting and unwinding at the end of your day is easier knowing you haven’t ignored your best friend’s boy-crisis. Set a specific time for when you go through all your texts and (personal) emails, for example after dinner.

4 | Know when something you see is a false reality

“Woman finds secret to eternal life, doctors HATE her”. Whether we’re talking disappointing clickbait articles or low-key influencer marketing on the Gram, there are tons of misleading advertising circulating on the internet. Pay attention to hashtags like #ad or #sponsored to double check if your favourite social media celebrity truly loves a product or service or just is being paid for promoting it.

5 | Similarly, don’t compare yourself to strangers on the internet

Social media can sometimes make us feel like we’re not living our best lives, but in reality, no one is! Like some inject their lips with botox or get butt implants, people ‘cosmetically’ – or rather, technically – alter, distort, and filter their life online. As a result, we’re all set up with a bunch of unrealistic expectations that we consider to be the new normal. Offline, even Alexis Ren looks like she got hit by a car sometimes.

via GIPHY

6 | Social media isn’t the equivalent of a social contract

You don’t have to accept your co-workers friend request, or follow back this person you spoke to 6 years ago, even if you feel like you should just to be nice to them. If you really want a valuable digital experience, it doesn’t make sense to allow a bunch of people that you wouldn’t engage with on your timeline.  

7 | Create a list of how you use social media versus how you could use it more effectively

Do you sometimes snoop around the social media accounts of your ex / nemesis / someone you like to hate on/make fun of? That habit is now canceled. Instead, take a regular peek at the profile of someone you look up to. Use it to offer help, educate, or positively influence your digital peers.

8 | Unfollow anyone who doesn’t make you happier, healthier, more educated or inspired

For me, that includes still following a guy that I hardly know, because he often shares genuinely satisfying videos of him peeling off plastic of new equipment. BLISS.

via GIPHY

9 | Include your personal goals into your digital experience

Do you want to improve your French this year? Go find someone French-speaking that you’d like to follow and engage with. Watch Netflix shows with French subtitles. Change the language settings on your phone to French and watch how fast you’ll be forced to learn new vocab!

online harassment happens partly because people lose their inhibitions as soon as they go online

Online harassment: trolls exhibit ‘drunken’ behaviour

I shut the door behind me and start sprinting to the bus stop, but the 137 rushes by right past me. Almost on automatic pilot, I take out my phone and start scrolling on Instagram. My thumb lingers over the screen as I see a post about an amazing lady doing amazing things. I check the comments. “You go, girl!” “You are an inspiration to all!” And then…

“Go back to the kitchen!!!!!!”

I click on their profile. A private account. Their profile picture a random cat picture plucked off the internet. Following: a bunch of controversial accounts. Followers: none.

If there’s anything I find more problematic than online harassment, it’s the fact that these people mask their true identity. Internet trolls are teetering on the edge of being dumb enough to engage into this kind of bullying, but smart enough to know that they would face a backlash if their friends, family or employer would catch them spewing their BS on other people’s feed.

Intoxicated on the internet

Why do some people waste their time bothering others on the internet? As soon as we unlock our phones or log on to our computers, we move into a new space. You’re no longer in the room, you are in your own digital bubble, where you feel comfy and safe, hidden away behind a screen.

This (false) sense of safety is what leads some to act differently online, according to Mary Aiken, cyberpsychologist and author of The Cyber Effect. “People can lose their inhibitions and in a way act drunk, because, for some, being in the cyber environment can impair judgement and increase impulsivity, somewhat similar to the way alcohol can” When we’re online, we feel a certain sense of distance and anonymity, as well as a perceived lack of authority.

How to deal with online harassment:

  • Know that the conversations you see online don’t represent society as a whole. It’s usually the (drunk) loud mouths that speak up;
  • If you see a threat being derailed by internet trolls, spread the love by commenting something positive;
  • Always report the posts and comments you feel have crossed a line;
  • Choose your battles and don’t fight fire with fire: if you do feel the need to respond, remind the harasser that they are talking to a real human being. It sounds crazy, but they often forget this!

Cache me if you can

There is definitely less surveillance, and more opportunity to act like a total douche, but comparing the internet to a lawless jungle is a common misperception. We don’t see cop cars speeding through our social media feeds, but that doesn’t mean cybercrime and online harassment goes unnoticed.

Even in our online bubble, we leave behind our ‘digital DNA’ everywhere. The combined efforts of hate speech algorithms and human moderators make sure that comments get removed and fake accounts blocked. And in more extreme cases, the authorities are able to crack the code.

Someone being targeted by online harassment

It was only last week that 21-year old Brandon Fleury was announced to be facing US federal charges for using Instagram to harass, intimidate and threaten. He used several accounts like “nikolas.killed.your.sister” and “nikolasthemurderer” to consistently target family of some of the Parkland victims.

The Internet was created under values of equality, anonymity and freedom. As the line between our cyber-bubble and the physical space becomes blurrier each day, we need to be aware of how our behaviour online has real-life (offline) consequences. Let’s all work harder to make the internet a better place!

Fyre Festival Documentary shows the true power of influencer marketing

Fyre Festival Shows True Power of Influencer Marketing

 

The new Netflix documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, shed light on how the most highly anticipated festival of 2017 was built on lies, empty promises and – Instagram. The festival was scheduled to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma over two weekends in April and May but was ultimately cancelled. After months of anticipation, the luxury paradise experience turned out to be severely mismanaged, if not a complete scam. How did so many people take the bait?

Influencers in the digital space

Did your parents tell you not to talk to strangers on the Internet when you were younger? Since then, the internet landscape has changed tremendously, and so has user’s online behaviour. Initially, we used social media as a tool to connect with our friends. Now, more than ever, we’re reaching out to beyond people we have offline relationships with. You’re probably not only talking to strangers on the internet nowadays, but following them too!

Clearly, our trust in others online has increased. Research by Dutch scholar Marjolijn Antheunis suggests that making more digital connections ultimately leads to an increased sense of togetherness between online users. Ordinary Instagram users have amassed thousands of followers doing ordinary things, simply because people are moving to the online sphere to find their community. In some cases, these social media ‘influencers’ are considered to be a part of their followers daily life and an extension of their existing social circles. We now trust strangers on the internet and it shows: 92% of consumers trust an influencer’s opinion about a product or service – someone they have never met in real life.

Fyre Festival frenzy

So what do you get if you put 10 of the most popular Instagram models on a paradise island in a promo video for an exclusive festival experience? A full-blown social media hype. After the video was launched, another 400 Instagram influencers posted nothing more than an orange tile with #fyrefestival in the caption, reaching millions of followers. “Who was playing, what the food was gonna be, all the things that typically sell a music festival wasn’t a sales point. This was like selling a dream, selling a trip, selling a concept”. And this was a concept no one wanted to miss out on: within 48 hours, 95% of the tickets were sold, with VIP packages selling for as much as $12,000.

Upon arrival, the festival-goers immediately realized they were essentially sold hot air. They were transported by regular Boeing 737’s instead of private jets, luxury accommodation turned out to be FEMA disaster relief tents, and the cuisine consisted of dry cheese sandwiches. Within hours, the promised paradise dream turned into a Lord of the Flies-style nightmare. The organisers had no choice but to cancel the event.

Should we blame Kendall Jenner for selling millennials all over the world nothing more than an illusion? The Fyre documentary is a reminder of the remarkable power of influencer marketing, and anything too powerful eventually becomes regulated. After the backlash of the Fyre Festival disaster, new legislation has been introduced to ensure the transparency of influencer marketing. Despite our Instagram celebrities now having to disclose their paid promotion by using #ad or #spon, influencer marketing is here to stay, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Want to read more on the distorted reality on Instagram? Click here

Bumble BFF allows you to meet new friends by just the touch of a button

I used an app to make friends – here’s how it went:

There are certain things in life you only seem to appreciate once you don’t have them anymore. Like being able to breathe normally when you’re coming down with a cold. Or first moving out of your parents’ home, only to find out the fridge doesn’t magically restock itself. I had a similar realisation when I moved into my flat in Brixton – how amazing is it to just have friends?

Let me clarify: most of your friendships are organic right? They just came into your life at the right time. You never actually sat down and asked them “so, what are we?” It just happened. It’s only after moving to a different country that I realised I needed to do this thing all over again. But how?

So, somewhat reluctantly, I typed ‘how to make friends in London’ into Google, hit enter, and stumbled upon Bumble BFF.

Having done research on online dating in Morocco, I know a fair bit about all the platforms out there. And to be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about getting back on them. However, since Google autofilled my ‘how to make friends in London’ search query, I figured there must be tons of people just as clueless as me. So, I downloaded the app, set up my profile, and got swiping. Here’s how it went:

Setting up a profile feels weird

That’s when I first hit a wall. On a regular dating profile, people often want to come across as desirable and interesting as possible (not judging, we’re all guilty of doing this). I, however, wasn’t trying to lure someone into my bed – I came here to find a partner in crime. But what kind of profile would make someone say “wow I totally want to be friends with her”? This is what I settled on:

My own Bumble BFF profile

…but not as weird as swiping left (or right)

Looking for a friend to work out / drink prosecco / have brunch / watch Netflix / go dog-spotting with? You’ll find your match in no time. Even if you’re more into niche activities, from smashing the patriarchy to cross-stitching, your new BFF is out there!

If you feel like this Bumble BFF is full of weird people that are not able to make friends – think again. On the app I came across a lot of ladies who were new to London and therefore looking to meet some new people, but everyone had their own story and reason to use Bumble BFF. People drift apart, fall out, or might just be in different life phases.

I’ve always felt that with online dating you’re not really swiping left or right on them as a person, but the image they have created of themselves. So, no hard feelings if it isn’t a match! Looks obviously don’t matter if we’re talking friendship, and it just felt a little judgemental swiping left based on a couple of lines.

So my activity looked a little like this:

via GIPHY

CHATTING UP A FRIEND IS HARDER THAN IT SEEMS

“YOU HAVE A MATCH”. First, there was excitement, then there was terror. The good news is that on this platform, you won’t be sent any creepy pick-up lines. Instead, you’ll usually be met with complete silence. Which I get, because starting a conversation is tricky when there aren’t any rules to this game. There are so many ways to go about this, from completely oversharing to “so… have you seen Birdbox?” Luckily, I wasn’t alone on this one, and once the ice was broken, I got some pretty good conversations out of it.

There’s this thing called a Mate Date: and I went on one.

But where to go from here? A couple of days into my Bumble ad-friend-ture I started to wonder what would be right time to ask my Bumble BFF if she wanted to hang out. I was ready to make a bold move, but she actually got ahead of me. Before I was able to overthink this, we made plans to meet at a cocktail bar in the South of London.

Was I nervous? A little bit. Did I need to be? Absolutely not. At the beginning it did feel a little bit date-y. And you can’t distract the other person from your shit personality by seductively sipping your drink – it really is all about that connection and friendship potential! Luckily, we hit it off from the beginning, and had a fabulous time getting to know each other. Fast forward two hours, I was eating a chippy in her kitchen and happily chatting away with her flatmates before all heading to a house party. “Is she a serial dater?” I asked one of them. “No, you’re actually the first she brought home!” he replied.

Bumble BFF is here to stay

With our second mate date planned for next week, I can honestly say that I’m super happy that I tried out this tech-y new way of making new friends. If there’s anything I learned from this experience, it’s that there will always be people open to new friendships, and you’re not weird for actively looking for one. Whatever your thoughts on online dating are, we can’t deny that technology has facilitated some amazing new ways to meet like-minded people with the touch of a button. Would you give it a go?

Things that happen at every house party

These are the things you’ll see at every house party:

F

8.50 PM: Your party starts at 9, which means your party really starts at least an hour later. There’s always that one kid who shows up at your door wayyyy too early. Chances are that they’ll be hovering around you nervously as you’re still getting ready.

10.00 PM: Your living room is filling up nicely, but you notice that not everyone got the BYOB-memo. Oh, well, you already knew you had snakes for friends, right?

11PM: Someone gets completely wrecked by beer pong and is hugging the toilet for the rest of the night.

house party at the student hotel rotterdam

11.30PM: One person decides to be the life of the party and genuinely believes it’s the right time for “TEQUILAAAA”. Although no one is actually buzzing to be doing double shots, they still manage to convince the entire room to drink along.

11:37PM: The tequila is kicking in nicely and new friendships and romances are established out of thin air. “SUPRISED PIKACHU IS MY FAVOURITE MEME TOO”

12 AM: Apparently word of your epic house party is spreading like wildfire because you’re pretty sure you didn’t invite that random group standing in the kitchen. By this time however, everyone is your best friend, so you couldn’t care less.

house party at the student hotel rotterdam

12.30AM: Someone tries to rally the squad to leave the house party for some mediocre bar in the city, but obviously fails because this is where all the alcohol is.

1.30 AM: A handful of latecomers show up at your doorstep more four hours after the party was supposed to start. You wonder what they have been up to, but forget about asking as soon as you rush back to the kitchen to shove some beers in their hands.

2AM: Ah, the long-awaited moment has come: your neighbours have had enough and start complaining. You wonder “What would the Great Gatsby do?” and decide the show must go on. 

3AM: The house party has definitely already peaked, but no one is ready to admit it. Half of the crowd is mellowing out on the couch, and the other half is dancing their asses off to Nickelback. What a time to be alive.

THE MORNING AFTER: As you gather the courage to roll out of bed with your head spinning, you assess the damage of last night. Your feet are plastered to the beer-soaked floor and you notice that your [insert any random household item] is missing. You go through your photos and messages and stumble on some questionable if not incriminating content and decide to go back to sleep.

The Dutch aren't stingy, but zero waste

A Note About Dutch Stereotypes and the Zero Waste Movement

The Dutch are known for being frugal. It used to be an aspect of my culture I’d feel ashamed of. I so vividly remember how my ex shunned me for sharing one tea bag between two cups of tea. “You are so Dutch! That’s such a cheap thing to do!”. I actually stopped doing it for a long time. It’s funny how things turn around, however. Call us cheap, frugal, or stingy, I call us resourceful. On kliekjesdag, usually the end of the week where you would just chuck all leftovers together in a frying pan and create something from nothing. We were combating food waste before it was cool.

 

To be completely honest with you, the stereotype of people from the Netherlands being frugal is driven more by the fact that we like to save some dough than save the earth. Still, considering that we are inherently (cue nature/nurture discussion) low waste consumers makes it a lot easier to jump and stay on the zero waste-bandwagon.

 

Shoutout to my mum for using those toothbrush clamps, double-dipping tea bags and making french toast out of stale bread.

How Social Media Envy Affects Us All

Quiz time! For what reason are you active on social media?

  1. To connect and keep in touch with people

  2. To be in the loop and inform myself

  3. To look at pug videos all day

  4. To manage and control the impression I make on others

You probably never even considered answer D to be the reason why you just love broadcasting live updates of your Sunday brunch on Instagram, right? Even if you hardly post on social media, you’ll be likely to treat your followers to a picture-perfect version of whatever it is you share.

Social media envy from Instagram
My personal feed. Cue party pics, milestones, showing off my friends, #instatravel…

Getting lost in this constant influx of images and content is way more than our brillant bean can take. Especially when we get bombarded with the creme de la creme of content. It makes us feel like we should be (or have been) there. That we need that product to look stylish, or fit in. It makes us wish that we could have the same body, boyfriend, or bank account.

social media Jealousy vs. social media Envy

Although envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, there is a subtle yet important difference between the two. Does the idea of other people sliding into your lover’s DMs make you feel like you should punch a wall? You’re jealous. Envy is scrolling through Instagram, seeing things you want and feeling bad about not being able to have it. In a way, FOMO (fear of missing out) is also a form of envy.

So, jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have, while envy is wanting what someone else has. Although social media jealousy definitely a problem that should be explored further, I’ll be focussing on social media envy, and the eternal struggle for the pursuit of happiness.

Keeping up with the Kardashians

Feeling envious, or comparing yourself to others is a very real thing, and you don’t have to be ashamed for it. In fact, we all experience it. Plus, it’s been around forever! The only difference is that it didn’t happen on a tiny screen. Today it’s all about the Kardashians, but a decade or two ago we were all keeping up with the Jones’es.

We wouldn’t feel like we were missing out on life just because some blond babe across the globe livestreamed herself swimming with sharks: we simply didn’t have access to her life. Instead, you would throw a tantrum because your frenemy from third grade got this awesome Tamagotchi, and you also wanted one. Similarly, your parents would be making snarky comments about Mr. Jones’es new shiny Ferrari parked on the driveway, right next to their Ford.

Being envious of one person in your direct circle is already harmful enough. Imagine seeing hundreds of those envy-evoking images on your Instagram feed. Every. Day. Sometimes it can feel like someone else is living your dream life. You’d almost think your own life isn’t fulfilling enough.

Social media envy makes us feel like we're not living our best lives
Social media envy makes us feel like we’re not living our best lives

In the latest podcast of The Minimalists, author Rachel Cruze explains how social media platforms have completely transformed our sense of relativity. “We now carry around something in our back pockets that offers us a window into everyone’s life”. But this life of theirs isn’t real. Like we can inject our lips with botox or get butt implants, we can ‘cosmetically’ – or rather, technically – alter, distort, and filter our life online. As a result, we’re all set up with a bunch of unrealistic expectations that we consider to be the new normal.

It’s time to come to the realisation that offline, even Alexis Ren looks like she got hit by a car sometimes.

Tiesto playing at Amsterdam Dance Event

A twentysomething guide to: Amsterdam Dance Event 2018

October 17th will mark the start of Amsterdam Dance Event, and as a fan of techno music, I’d favour this over Halloween any time of the day. That’s why I’ve written a little guide with everything you’ll need to know for this week full of of dance and debauchery. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed dance veteran, or thought ADE was some kind of illness until now, check out this read to have an unforgettable time in Amsterdam.

ADE FOR DUMMIES

Back in 1995, Amsterdam Dance Event started out as an electronic music conference. The 90’s marked the start of the dance music obsession in the Netherlands, and the conference was meant boost the business-side of the industry. Fast forward more than two decades, Amsterdam Dance Event has grown into the “leading electronic music platform and the biggest club festival in the world for the whole spectrum of electronic sub-genres.” Think five days, 2,500 artists, 400K visitors, scattered across 200 of the most unique locations in the city of Amsterdam.

Hardwell, Tiësto, Martin Garrix: the Dutch world of dance has a phenomenal global reputation with some of the best and most popular DJ’s being born and raised here in the Netherlands. What’s in the water here, that turns young men into such naturally talented producers? ADE is definitely a home game for these big names, but do expect loads of international superstars joining too.

Artist playing at Amsterdam Dance Event

WHERE DO I GO?

Yes, the off-the-wall concentration of musical artists in one city is fabulous, but becoming overwhelmed with choice paralysis and FOMO by scrolling through an endless list of events is inevitable. That’s why I asked my friend & event organiser Denys to hand over his selection of must-see shows.

Pleinvrees: It’s that time of year again! At our annual October family reunion the Pleinvrees-family gathers in Amsterdam for some much needed quality time. The classic WesterUnie with its three industrial halls serve as the perfect place of business.  To kick things off, we welcome back the ‘masters of melody’ Hungry Music at their home away from home. Olivier brings the Weiter-gang for the first day of this year’s Pleinvrees ADE trilogy. Well begun is half done!

DGTL: DGTL returns to the well-known Scheepsbouwloods for this year’s ADE. The Friday will be hosted by Paradise, Saturday by Outlier, but on Thursday DGTL is in full control. In order to match the industrial vibe of the Scheepsbouwloods, DGTL has invited no other than Nina Kraviz, Jeff Mills, Bicep [live], Floorplan, and many othes.

Free Your Mind: On Thursday October 18th, Free Your Mind Festival is presenting three label showcases in one single event at Amsterdam’s beloved Thuishaven terrain. Hernan Cattaneo’s label Sudbeat, Nick Warren’s Soundgarden imprint, and Audiofly’s Flying Circus are joining forces. Expect to see many of the usual suspects on this Thursday, which is part of Free Your Mind’s anniversary festivities.

GET HOLD OF THOSE (SOLD OUT) TICKETS

So, have you not bought your ticket yet? Tranquilo, there’s always a way. Most events have been sold out due to high demand, but there are still ways to get your hands on those golden tickets without selling your soul.

People will be trying to get rid of their tickets last-minute. Seize that opportunity! Tickeswap is a great platform for buyers and sellers, because you’ll never be paying more than 20% on top of the original ticket price. If you’re lucky, (and this happens quite often) you may be able to get a ticket for a lower price than the event was selling it for.

If you can’t be rich, be smart, am I right?

DOING DRUGS (SAFELY)

If we’re all being honest, ADE could also stand for Amsterdam Drug Event, considering how many people see this festival as a legitimate excuse to go on a complete binge. Obviously, this is not the way to go about it, and if you do decide to use, be responsible about it.

Despite the fact that most party drugs are still illegal, the police is generally quite lenient when it comes to Amsterdam Dance Event. If you get busted at the entrance, you’ll have to say bye-bye to your candy and may be denied entrance. If you plan to carry more than 5 pills or 0,5 grams of any substance – don’t! You’ll be risking a serious fine if not prison time, since this will be considered dealing.

Party at indoor venue at Amsterdam Dance Event

If you are planning on taking drugs during the Amsterdam Dance Event, please make sure that you know what you’re taking is safe. We know that this is getting a little bit old now, but there have been fatalities with drugs on ADE before, and do you really want to risk being that person? There will be a number of drug testing facilities available on the spot to make sure you’re good to go.

  • During your trip, be sensible. If you’re not feeling it, don’t suddenly shove an entire pill down your throat!
  • Stay hydrated: interchanging between Coke and water is a good idea. All festivals are required to hand out free water, and there will be first-aid posts at the events to make sure that you’re safe and sound.
  • If you tend to chew off your tongue on a trip, Magnesium is your friend. Take a pill before throwing shapes on the dance floor to relax your muscles and alleviate any pain the next day.
  • Check in with your friends every occasionally to see how they’re doing, even if you (or they) are busy getting completely lost in the music.

POST-ADE

Chances are that your day, night, or week of partying will end with a bit of a thud, as you’ll be slung back into reality on Monday morning. Amsterdam will go back to its usual self, (can’t quite speak of a slumber as it is a madhouse 24/7) and you’ll probably be doing the same. We can all agree that post-festival blues suck, even more so with an unbearable hangover.

The cure is pretty straightforward. Grab your Netflix-and-Chill buddy, catch that extra hour of sleep, eat food that’s high in protein and fat (such as avocado, egg, fish and nuts) and exercise yourself happy!

group of people meeting

Why we should stop asking people what they do

In less than three months I’ll be swapping in my home country for another. It’s an exciting next step that I feel comes at exactly the right time: I’ve graduated, am not completely anchored to a job and most of all, ready for a change  after living in the Netherlands for 22 years.

“Yay, London, that’s great! Already know whereabouts?”

“Nah, I’ll see”, I shrug, completely unfazed.

“Have you found a job yet?

“No I haven’t”

“Oh, but you must have something in mind that you want to be doing there, right?”

I answer with another negative, now feeling slightly self-conscious.

Having had the same talk with friends, colleagues and family over the past months, I’ve noticed this pattern occurring dozens of times. And it makes sense, because I’m obviously not going to be sitting on a bench staring at the Big Ben for the rest of my life. They want to know what I’ll be spending my time on.

Here’s what we seem to be forgetting:

A week, last time I checked, consisted of 168 hours.

A work-week, averages 36-40 hours.

“What do you do?” is probably the most frequently  asked question (excluding all weird Google searches) out there. For a question that ambiguous, we probably all have a carefully prepared answer that we are able to recite as effortlessly as the Pokemon theme song.

“I’m a manager at a local electronics store”

“I’m a student at X University, studying North-American History”

“I’m currently unemployed”

Congratulations, you have just learned how random person at houseparty A,B, and C, spend 23.8% of their time! Maybe you now have an indication of their monthly paycheck, if that matters to you.

via GIPHY

Do I sound a little salty? Maybe, but what I’m trying to point out is that you’ll discover surprisingly little about that person, while at the same time pigeonholing them into a degree, or job title. I’m a social media marketeer 23.8% of the time, but in my spare time, I stay to stay away from Facebook and Instagram as much as possible. I don’t like talking about algorithms, influencers and Mark Zuckerberg in my free time.

Mini challenge: Next time you’re at a party and meet something new, and they ask you what you do, try and give them a honest answer (of course, only share what you want to share).

I’ll go first: I work as a (see how I didn’t say I am?) social media marketer for a small tech startup, I run and do yoga a couple times a week, and I love putting words down on paper in any way, shape, or form.

Some would be delighted to answer that question for you, however, raving on about their job, their challenges and projects. These people are either truly passionate about what they do (in their 23.8% space) or also associate their job with whatever they do in their free time. If you consider yourself part of this group, you’re lucky, because not everyone feels this way.  There definitely is a certain privilege in doing what you love

Regardless, isn’t it way more fun to talk about what you do and who you are in your free time? The time we all seem to enjoy most out of the week? Of course, talking about your job is not a taboo, a detail in our life that we must try and bury! Just know that you are so much more than that, and so are others.

Doing what you love goes beyond our 40-hour work week, so let’s focus on that.

Mini-challenge: At that same party, try to find the one thing that make their eyes sparkle with joy and excitement. Is it a book they recently read? Their pet guinea pig? Crossfit? Collecting stamps? Salt & Vinegar crisps?

By (literally) changing the conversation, we get rid of the idea that our job is the singular most important in our daily lives, and we focus on the things that give us pleasure, rather than what gives us stress.

 

So, what do you do?