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TLDR; Value Your Time, and Don’t Use Helium Balloons

Hannah and Isabella are long-distance besties, which means through ten-minute voice notes and hours-long phone calls, they’ve become self-proclaimed advice experts. Readers can submit queries anonymously or with their name to hear their honest and professional-ish answers on life, love and everything in-between.

Here at Outloud, we like to get our readers involved. Instead of your usual advice column, we decided to let you ask us literally anything. So… wish us luck!

Got a question? Ask us here

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When is the best time of the day to call a chatty friend?

Toga Girl

Hannah & Isabella say:

Good for you for acknowledging their chattiness and still wanting to reach out! Getting stuck on the phone can be a daunting prospect.

In our (un)professional opinions, the best time to call an overly chatty friend is 30 minutes before you need to be out the door to go somewhere. This puts your availability in a defined length of time, and can help you stay more present in the conversation, because you won’t have that “How long will I be stuck this time?” monologue in the back of your mind. It might feel awkward to set a time limit on a conversation (especially in these days of presumed 24-hour access) but knowing your limits and setting a boundary will be good for your relationship in the long run (presuming this is a relationship you want to maintain long term).

Try this:

Start the conversation by setting an expectation of its length right off the bat. You can say: “Sorry, I have to do *insert activity* soon so I can’t speak for long, but I wanted to call and check in/speak about *insert conversation topic* because *insert reason*.” This is a great way to show them that you prioritise their friendship while still allowing you to keep an eye on your time. It will make them feel valued and think: “Wow, they’re in a rush but still taking the time to call me! I must be so special to them!”.

This also gives you a valid reason to end the conversation without it feeling abrupt. When you start the conversation with that time limit expectation, then no matter where you end it, they know it’s not them, but your schedule. This gives you the flexibility to carry on for as long as you like if you’re really enjoying it (you can tell them “It’ll be fine I’ll just be a bit late”), but a gracious way to exit if you’re feeling a little stuck! 

Don’t have any real immediate plans? Tell them you have a call scheduled with your Grandma. Works every time.

person wearing a graduation cap

How do I find deep fulfilment in life?

Now that I’ve finished 8 years of post secondary studies and been working for over a year, sometimes I just feel like… what am I supposed to be doing now? I’m used to having assignments due every week, being given a grade, getting some indication of how I’m moving toward my goal (graduating and getting a job). Feeling kinda stuck. – BRabz

Hannah & Isabella say:

Firstly: Congratulations! You did it! You got the fancy paper and the real-person job, and we love that for you! Not gonna lie though, deep fulfilment is a tall order. Why don’t we start with some personal satisfaction, and see where we can go from there?

This is a very common situation, and the way you’re feeling is completely normal. (Isabella says: a while ago I worked at a pub that was a common hangout for post-grad and PhD students. It was super common to find recent graduates and new doctors expressing the exact same feelings. So, please know that you’re not alone!).

A big challenge in the transition between education and the ‘real world’ is moving from an environment where structure and goals are provided for you, into an unstructured ‘real life’ scenario. Even though you’ve been working for over a year at this point, the fact that you spent so long in the education system means it will take a while to adjust to your new reality. Think of it like a breakup: they say it takes you half the length of the relationship to get over it fully, so don’t worry if it feels like this process is taking a long time.

Human minds crave structure and order, and when this isn’t provided externally anymore, your mind can start to reel and you can feel untethered from anything tenable. This can be super stressful, but it’s also where you can begin the hunt for those beautiful nuggets of ✨possibility✨.

This is where the fun stuff begins! You now get to create your own structure and choose your own goals, in whatever discipline you actually care about. Are you really into fitness? Have you always wanted to pick up a particular musical instrument? Is there a skill you always thought was really impressive but never had the chance to explore? What’s that one thing on Instagram you’ve always wanted to try? Now’s your chance to explore your interests and imagine the life you want to build for yourself.

Personal satisfaction looks different for everyone. For some people, it might simply be being surrounded by as many fluffy animals as humanly possible. From what you’ve said, it sounds like you prefer (or need) goals in life to give you that sense of purpose. It might seem trivial to say “just pick a goal and work towards it”, but honestly, sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. It doesn’t matter how big, small, random, or weird your personal goals are, it’s the reaching of said goals that matters. If you’ll find satisfaction through making the best croissant possible, then go ahead. Make the damn croissant.

From the professional desk of our top-tier editor-in-chief: Isabella’s top tips for goal-setting

– Figure out what will keep you motivated: A strict time frame? Breaking the goal into smaller steps that are easier to achieve? A cheeky glass of wine after each step? Whatever works for you, keep it in mind as you’re setting your goal.
– Keep it achievable: Be honest with yourself, and don’t try to do too much at once. It’s okay to go at your own pace! There’s no right or wrong way to do this, whether your goal is to run a marathon or make it to the end of the street. 
– Make time for reflection: Even from the beginning, you should be looking back at past achievements and giving yourself some well-deserved credit! Make sure you take time to do this whilst you’re on your way to your new goal, too. It’s good for your mental health, and it will keep you motivated.
– Look at the bigger picture: Setting goals and working towards them is valuable and rewarding, sometimes more so than achieving the end goal. So, if you don’t quite make it to the end, know that there’s value in the process.

I think my childhood best friend is in love with my partner.

It’s felt like recently she’s been avoiding me, but she wouldn’t tell me why. A few days ago though we went out and got pretty drunk, and she admitted that she’s been avoiding both of us because she’s in love with them. From my perspective this has come completely out of the blue, and now I don’t know what to do. Do I tell my partner or let it be? Help! – anonymous

Hannah & Isabella say:

That is a really tough situation to be in, and we don’t envy you in the least. Juggling relationships between friends, partners, and family can be stressful enough at the best of times, let alone adding in a complication like this! 

While we want to provide a safe space for people to ask whatever is on their mind, we don’t necessarily have enough information about the relationship between your friend and partner to offer definitive advice in one direction or another. Some things you should consider when thinking about how to move forward might be: Do they have their own relationship? Are they friends, or have they only met a few times? Do they hang out without you?

What we can speak to, however, is how we imagine this might be making you feel. It might be tough, but try not to take this personally. This is about your friends’ feelings and needs. If she’s been avoiding you, it sounds like she needs some space, so give it to her guilt-free and don’t internalise it all upon your friendship.

In regards to whether you should share this info with your partner, we actually have different opinions:

Hannah says: It really depends on the level of communication you share with your partner. If you’re open with each other about all things, and have discussed similarly complicated issues in the past and it’s only brought you closer together, absolutely tell them. Not telling them could be interpreted as a betrayal of sorts. However, I recognize that not all relationships enjoy the same privilege of radical honesty. If the thought of telling your partner scares you in any way (note that there is a difference between apprehension about the situation and fear of your partner’s reaction), maybe hold off, as it could cause unnecessary strife between you. Whatever you choose to do though, you should inform your friend of your decision before you do it. If they vehemently reject the idea of you telling your partner anything, you may want to reconsider.

Isabella says: For me, I don’t think you should tell your partner, no matter how close you are. Your friend clearly already feels ashamed/awkward enough! If you want to save the friendship, show her that she has your trust. You may be able to open up to your partner further down the line, but right now, if your friend doesn’t want them to know, it’s not for you to tell. It’s also one more thing for you to be dealing with, on top of managing this difficult scenario with your friend.

Whatever you decide, just remember: we don’t control who we fall in love with, we can only control our own reaction to it. Her avoidance and reluctance to tell you likely means that she’s feeling guilty about the whole situation, and that she wants to protect you all from getting hurt. All you can do is trust that your friendship is strong enough to survive this, and let her process as she needs.

helium balloons floating in the sky

How long does helium last in a balloon?

– anonymous

Hannah & Isabella say:

Look, let’s be honest. We’re not scientists, we’re not engineers, and we’re not going to put the time or effort into testing this ourselves. We’d also like to state that we as a species now know that helium is a finite resource on this planet, and using it to fill balloons is a terrible – though admittedly very fun – waste of one of our more scientifically useful natural resources. Helium has important applications in medicine, scientific research, aerospace engineering and computing, and it must be conserved for these purposes when possible.

That being said, we are an equal question-opportunity publication. As such, here is what we found using the all-powerful Google algorithm. We hope this helps:


Though many factors can influence the duration time of a balloon, normally an inflated latex balloon with helium should last 18 to 24 hours. Foil helium balloon(sic) can retain for much longer, often remaining inflated for 2 to 5 days. It all depends where you place them and the room temperature they are placed in.


1- It’s okay to value your own time and do what you need to maintain your boundaries

2 – Personal satisfaction looks different for everyone

3 – We don’t control who we fall in love with, we can only control our own reaction

4 – Don’t use helium balloons…but if you do, they’ll last for 18 to 24 hours

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