Battling Nihilism

Back when I was in sixth form I developed a bug for going out. It was a new and exciting time that gave me my first glimpse of adult life. Of course, this had to be balanced out by getting a job which could fund my social endeavours. My very first job was McDonalds which was a whole lot of fun and then I started working at the local Asda which was easier to get to.

There were vastly more people working at Asda so I got to meet all sorts of people which led to more nights out socialising. It also meant more opinions, ideas and thought processes that I was exposed to. One in particular was that of credit cards. (I’m going somewhere with this).

On one shift I was having a discussion with a colleague about credit cards and he was explaining how they worked exactly and that he was going to apply for one as he had just turned 18. The idea of being able to buy whatever I wanted right there and then and not having to worry about paying it back immediately was music to my ears.

Within the following year I had got myself a job with Halifax in my town and began to see how credit cards were being used by customers. Making minimum payments each month for big purchases. This was incredible. I loved the idea of this. Given that I worked there it was really easy to get approved for one and of course using the rationale of wanting to build up my credit rating really helped me justify the application.

Needless to say that I let it get out of hand. Before I knew it I had maxed out the £1200 limit. It wasn’t a problem though because I only had to make minimum payments. Easy, right? Sure, for one card maybe. I had been suckered into credit and so I didn’t stop at just one card. It was followed by another credit card. An then another one. And add on top of that a car loan.

I can’t quite remember what I ever had to show for all the credit card bills. I mainly used them for going out or buying new clothes. Anything that would depreciate in value. It was a long slog over the course of a few years to get them paid off. When I made it my mission my pay them off I focused solely on it and in time the debt went.

The relief was unreal. I felt as though I had finally brought chaos into order in regards to my finances. A sense of gratitude fell over me. I could breathe and relax a little more. Life was rosey again and I even had savings in the bank. This again gave me less volatility within my emotional brain.

Yes, it was short lived. I still had the credit cards. I hadn’t cut them up and closed them down. The balances were at zero and they were laying dormant, waiting for me to start swiping again. And so I did. This time it had gotten to around £5000 and I had the idea of going to travel around Australia. Well not with so much debt I wouldn’t be. So I went for it again. In a 10 month period I had a £10,000 swing in fortune. I focused diligently on paying the debt off and then got aggressive with saving. The £5000 I had saved equated to around $14,000 AU and I was ready for take off. I had a glimmer of that relief I once experienced from before.

By now you may have started to see a pattern emerging. I was blissfully unaware, obviously. I ploughed through that money quicker than you can say ‘G’day mate’. Well, alcohol is expensive in Sydney and we were out virtually every night. I developed a penchant for expensive (and very colourful) surfer shorts. After the first four months it dawned on me that I had to go and work. Welcome to blistering hot days in rural Australia picking rock melons!

A few months had passed and I had saved up a fair bit of cash again and was ready to hit the road. And, yes, you guessed it, that money soon disappeared in every bar along Australia’s East Coast. Only this time, work was harder to come by. The global financial crisis was in full swing and any jobs were understandably set aside for locals.

No prizes for guessing that the credit card came out again. Only this time I had to have it shipped over. Yes, really. This time I had racked up around £3500 of debt and even though I had managed to save a lot of money from subsequent work when I found it, I hadn’t made any effort to put a serious dent in my debt. I brought it back home with me.

This is where things started to get really tough. When I came home I went self employed for the first time and in a completely new position as a Personal Trainer. Any work I had done up until that point was on an employed basis whereby I was guaranteed a wage each month. Things were different now and I had no idea just how difficult this new life of mine would be.

I was working long hours for very little reward. Scraping by and borrowing money along the way. Any money that I had brought home from Australia with me had been spent and yet the debt remained. I was too proud to give up being a Personal Trainer even though I kept quitting positions within the industry. I just couldn’t go and get any old job. I had to make this work.

My friend alerted me to some sales gurus on YouTube and I became hooked on studying human potential. In my effort to make it as a PT I started booking myself onto courses, workshops and seminars. Along with buying a new car I knew that my debt was out of control and was too scared to figure out by how much.

One day I knew I had to be completely honest with myself and calculate it all. At it’s highest it was close to £45,000. I was freaked out. I would spend every waking moment worrying about falling off the edge into the abyss. I’ve always been a worrier and somewhat anxious, only now these sensations were just as maxed out as my credit cards.

I increased my workload to the point where I was often working 15-23 days in a row. Sometimes even more. I was delivering PT sessions, I was tutoring PT courses and assessing alongside it. I was marking learner portfolios. I was stressed, tired and depressed. Big time. There were periods when I was making between £6-7000 per month yet I still felt as though it wasn’t enough. I was still anxious and panicked.

By this point I knew I had to really master money management. I watched every penny and I made sure that I paid myself first every time money hit my account. Something that so many people protest against despite never actually trying it. My fortunes began to change. The more diligent I was becoming with my finances, the more I was saving and the more I was chipping away at my debt.

Then all of a sudden it was flowing in from all angles. I was offered better paid work meaning I could give up lesser paid work, I negotiated a big contract for my business and I even got some inheritance. For the first time in nearly a decade I am completely debt free and with money in the bank. I bet you’re thinking that I am experiencing the same relief from the first time I became debt free, only this time even more so?

Well, no, I’m not. I have been in this position now around seven months and I am just as anxious as I have always been when I was in debt. And I’ve finally figured out why. The reason I did all those long hours and took on all those jobs was because I needed money. That’s it. It was purely self-interest which there is nothing wrong with as we all have to survive and meet our needs. For me, however, I feel that I am lacking meaning in my life.

I am in a very fortunate position whereby my business is ticking over nicely until the end of this contract and yet I am still sat here, at 32 years of age, not knowing what it is that I want to do. I am really struggling to find meaning in going out and working for the sake of satisfying my own needs. Sure, I want to buy my own home, that is my next step from a personal point of view. What I can’t do, though, is go out and work for the sole purpose of wanting to have a home for myself. I need to balance that desire out with something that has genuine meaning and makes an impact.

And this is where I am in a constant fight against Nihilism. What truly is meaningful? What is going to bring value to people’s lives? In all honesty, I just don’t know. I have been so cut off from people these last seven years that I feel as though I don’t have much in common with a lot of folk these days. I seem to have lost that cheeky Chappy spark I once had and replaced it with a persona of worry and anxiety.

When asked what do I do everyday without having to be reminded to do it, I would say “personal growth”. I will be reading books, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos or be in deep thought trying to understand my habits, behaviours, actions and underlying beliefs. Personal growth has become a drug for me. I can’t let a day go by without trying to learn something new or develop in some way. I know it is my destiny to teach my knowledge to others, I just struggle to visualise it fully because I’m so clouded with anxiety.

I have aspirations to build a vast fortune. I just can’t build it for the sake of building it. I need to make it by providing a meaningful service that adds value to people’s lives. I can’t live my life pursuing self-interest anymore. I just can’t. It feels hollow to me. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right.

Over the course of the last year, almost, I have been embracing minimalism. I realised just how much clutter I had been holding onto, despite already being ruthless with stuff. I really went for it. I got rid of so much stuff and have a goal to get to under 50 items. Even though I love books I decided to take the plunge into the Kindle way of life. I have to say I don’t regret it at all. In doing so, I recently sold all my paperback and hardcover books along with my book cases.

Before I did, I decided to categorise them. What I found was that out of five separate categories, health and fitness had the fewest books whilst wealth/business and spirituality both had the highest amounts. It is clear that I want to build wealth and it is also clear that I want to do so from a point of spiritual service. I understand intellectually how these two fields are two sides of the same coin, I am still trying to get to grips with it emotionally.

In Dr John Demartini’s book ‘How To Make One Hell Of A Profit And Still Get To Heaven’, he dedicates the first chapter to explaining how the more you build wealth, the more emotional control you will have therefore are more grateful and want to serve from the heart more and more. Wealth is a way to allow the heart to share its true spiritual expression. It makes so much sense.

I know I said that I don’t know what I want to do; deep down I do know. I just deny myself the belief that I can do it and therefore go round and round in circles and making myself anxious. I want to be the world’s leading authority on human potential and consciousness. My self doubt is partly born out of impatience. Typical millennial mentality, admittedly. “I want it all and I want it now!”

What stops me falling into the black hole of Nihilism is my certainty in Existentialism. You would have a hard time convincing me that each human being on this planet isn’t capable of great achievement, however you may define achievement. There isn’t anyone on the planet that can tell you what you are capable of achieving. I believe that human potential is infinite. I am just still figuring out how to tap into it.

If someone wants to become a millionaire, they have to change the way they think. It really is that simple. Not easy at all, very simple, however. The only difference between successful and unsuccessful people is the way they think. That’s it. I said in a recent blog that I am not so much money driven as I am freedom driven. I already am free. I have no debt, I work for myself and I don’t have any commitments.

I am not so sure I understood myself enough at that point. I am growth driven and I use wealth as a marker for that growth. Achieving greater wealth requires growth. I’m reminded of the saying ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’. I’m not denying that there are some rich people out there that are miserable and some people with hardly any money are happy as they are. For me, I want both wealth and spiritual fulfilment. I have spent too long denying this for fear of ridicule.

Shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown has discovered that what gives our lives meaning is connection and that we are hard wired for it. Therefore maybe the threat of Nihilism isn’t my problem after all.

Maybe it’s loneliness?

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