Challenging the Status Quo 

Disclaimer: This post includes one hell of a first world whinge about life. And for the past week, I have often wondered whether or not to hit ‘publish’ on these thoughts. But, if you are reading this, I have obviously decided that hey, Olive & Clo is my blog. And, I’mma write whatever I want! So let’s just begin shall we.

At twenty-seven-years-old, I work full-time, have a mortgage, am saving for a wedding, and maintain two ridiculously adorable felines. By all accounts, I am exactly where ‘the system’ believes I should be. I am a contributor to society. I consume more than I should and I get taxed up to my eyebrows, with very minor complaints. Heck, I am an outstanding citizen. And that’s great. If my end game was to become a sheep.

With age, my cynicism has flourished. I feel slightly more jaded and often catch myself feeling ..less naive, less hopeful. I am riddled with responsibilities, burdened by uncertainty and like every other Australian, I am drowning in debt. And now, after 5 years of university, 3 years of full-time employment, and a lifetime of adhering to the status quo, I, a reasonably intelligent person, am trapped in the vicious cycle of work, debt, work, debt. With no feasible way out.

So today, I thought I would share with you a few of the realities behind some of the decisions I have made in my life. Decisions that I had thought were necessary, that would put me on the path to success, towards a life of substance. But before I get started, no post of mine would be complete without a gallery of photos to share with you all. Today’s photos come from an evening spent exploring the bay of Shorncliffe, Queensland where Rhett and I sunk our feet in the mud and hung out with the baby crabs.

Status Quo 1: Go To University And Get A Decent Paying Job.

After 5 years of full-time study at the University of Newcastle, I graduated with a double degree in Chemical Engineering and Business Management. And despite having decent grades and a year’s worth of relevant work experience, I, along with thousands of other graduates, found it difficult to secure full-time employment. And even when I did, a year later, the role I landed had no relevance to the tertiary education I had devoted 5 years of my life trying to complete.

The fact of the matter is, job prospects for Australian University Graduates are rapidly declining with fewer, and fewer being able to secure full-time work within their first 2 years. The most recent study found that the portion of university students in full-time employment had dropped significantly from 56.4 per cent in 2008 to 41.7 per cent in 2014. And it honestly felt that way when I was applying for jobs. Out of the 100 applications I submitted, I made only a handful of interviews. And out of a cohort of 50 or so graduates, less than half were lucky enough to enter the workforce.

So after 5 years of study and $40k worth of student loans, I have come to realize that university is far from end-game. In fact, getting the degree is arguably the easy part. And immediately following the joy of graduation was the onslaught of heartache, disappointment and confusion that came with job hunting. And I do wonder what proportion of the 41.7 per cent of graduates able to secure positions actually found a decent return on their investment.

Status Quo 2: Enter The Property Market.

With the Brisbane median house price approaching $655k (as of March, 2017), and assuming a loan period of 25 years at an interest rate of roughly 4%, the above figures amount to yearly repayments of approximately 80% of what the average full-earning Australian will take home (after tax) in one year. Purchasing a roof over our heads has never seemed more unaffordable. And 2 years ago, when Rhett and I found ourselves knee deep in the real estate market, l*rd-all-mighty did we feel the burn. 

And the enormous costs associated with house-buying isn’t even the saddest part of the story. What was set to follow once we made the decision to take on a home loan was a slew of unease, and anxiety. Not only had Rhett and I become utterly dependent on our fortnightly salary but we also relinquished any sort of freedom we had to simply quit our jobs, or relocate, or travel. Because now we had baggage. And not the normal baggage that we could simply toss out (after watching a documentary on the minimalistic lifestyle – been there, done that), but the sort of commitment that is full-on, messy, and most likely will require a decent lawyer.

And that may not seem like a big deal to some people, but for me, it felt like Rhett and I had erected a cage around our lives. That we had, in some way, negatively hindered ourselves, prematurely capping our potential just to be that couple who could say: ‘we bought a house!’

And I just, I find society and the impossible expectations we set ourselves so .. ironic. We are applauded to earn the right to bust our ass for another man’s bottom-line. We are congratulated when we lock ourselves into 25 year’s worth of debt, just to pay off a piece of land. We are supported for being the ‘battler’ in the story, living pay-check to pay-check with no end in sight.

And somehow, it is expected that we are to find happiness with being so completely owned by the system; and not only that, we are conditioned to glaze over the fact that we gave up our freedom to one day, someday, own our home, or be the next high-flying CEO. 

As I have rambled on for far too long, I am going to leave it here and finish off by saying that despite all of the above, I am very happy. So utterly content, and very grateful for the lot that I have been blessed with. I am loved by my family, adored by my fiancé, supported by my colleagues, challenged by my profession, and treated with an air of indifference by my two felines. And at the moment, I couldn’t really ask for much more.

However, I don’t think enough can be said around the issues that come with living life by the status quoGone were the days where university degrees guaranteed you a full-time role in the work force. And I feel like a good decade has passed since the idea of starting an investment portfolio was at all a possible path to venture. So why, why are we are still placing so much pressure on ourselves to walk down said paths? As if buying a property or going to a good university are still ..good ideas?

Thank you to everybody that has taken the time to read yet another instalment of my ramblings. I truly do appreciate all the love and support I’ve been receiving on Olive & Clo lately. You guys have honestly injected so much substance into my life.

Until next time, stay safe.
Love Linda, xo

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24 Comments

  1. May 1, 2017 / 6:31 pm

    I love these pictures and that dress!!
    Also, I agree with your post, the dream of going to uni, having a job, then buying a job lands us all in a lot of debt. And unless you earn a loooot, you’re going to be in that for half your life. It sucks that this is accepted as a social norm. I really want to own a house soon, but I’m not so thrilled about thinking of the mortgage, and all the interest and debt that will follow..
    But having a home for me and Rory is definitely something we both really want 🙂

    • OliveandClo
      May 1, 2017 / 6:38 pm

      Angela, I absolutely adore every time I receive a comment from you! 😘💕

      And I agree with you. I can’t forget that living in my own home with Rhett does have some amazing positives. And maybe it is worth all that effort, and debt.

      Oh! I do hope you and Rory are able to purchase a house soon! And don’t forget to take your readers on that journey with you! I would love to join in. Haha. Because it IS kind of exciting.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting miss. 💜😍

  2. May 1, 2017 / 11:54 pm

    Very interesting perspective on ‘life’ – very similar to my own. On cynicism: it will continue to flourish. Mine has, it’s never stopped expanding! The older you get, the more cynical you will become. Welcome to the club!

    • OliveandClo
      May 2, 2017 / 5:18 am

      Hahah, what an interesting lens you must view the world in! As mine has already misted grey!

      And thank you kind sir! I hope this membership comes free! I’m not sure I can deal with anymore fees. 🤣 haha

      As always, thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂🙂

  3. Anonymous
    May 2, 2017 / 12:20 am

    In the time that you have been alive the world has added roughly 2-3 billion more people. So all conventional wisdom of our forbears are not applicable as is.

    Life is at the end of it all is a competition. And the irony is that sometimes to be happy we have to believe that is not the case. Not all of it, but the parts you talk about.

    Jobs and housing markets are all about competing. And the brutality is something no one prepares us for. I live in silicon valley and have astounding qty of debt.

    Now the greatest lesson that my present chapter in life has taught me is that, the challenge in life is not the actual drudgery and the insurmountable odds.

    But in fact , the real challenge is to be somehow be happy despite it all. And by that account, you are doing splendidly well.

    • OliveandClo
      May 2, 2017 / 5:24 am

      This comment, your few sentences, have already resonated with me so greatly. Thank you so much for sharing. Because you are right on all accounts.

      Despite all odds, the sheer drudgery of every single day, if I can wake up on a Tuesday morning and sit down, happily sipping my morning coffee, and not feel utterly burdened by it all, you are right, I think I am doing quite well.

      What a great perspective! And Silicon Valley. Is living there all as ‘sexy’ as it would seem?

      Again, thank you for reading, and commenting, but not only that, sharing your wisdom.

  4. May 2, 2017 / 1:06 am

    The world added about 3 billion people in the time that we have been alive. So its fair to say that competition in general is a lot rougher.

    Both the job market and housing market are good examples of competition. But that being said, I suppose the irony you pointed out was the main issue. Life is brutal and tough, and yet, there is an expectation for happiness.

    As contradictory as it seems, I think thats just it. I don’t think it makes much sense to accept life as it is, a relentless battle against decay.

    You seem to have found it already. You are loved and you are happy. From where I stand, I don’t think it gets much better. There will always be something that weighs you down, at least debt is standard and commonplace.

    May you be happy, and may your home equity rise 🙂

    • OliveandClo
      May 2, 2017 / 5:56 am

      Haha, good point! We are all traveling on similar boats aren’t we? Traveling up sh*t creek with no paddles or life jackets in sight! 🤣

      I feel like, we are all just accepting things as ‘just is’. And you are right, I think that’s half the damn trouble! Not enough of us have the courage to live differently, or be different (myself included). But in saying that, I guess there is nothing like the present to make changes, alter perspectives and attitudes. 🤔🙂

      And thank you so much for reading and your comments (as always). And thank you for those blessings! I can only hope for such ‘success’ 🤣🤣

  5. May 2, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Very interesting post and very interesting thoughts about cynicism. I just recently thought about it. Indeed, one needs cynicism to fight for one’s place under the sun these days. And it makes us stronger and more immune to life’s turbulences, while also making more savvy and less naive. I think it’s a sign of maturity.

    • OliveandClo
      May 2, 2017 / 5:22 pm

      I agree. I think emotional intelligence, and maturity are attributes that can only be developed through time. And unfortunately cynicism, just comes with the parcel of age.

      Thank you for reading and commenting Galina 🙂🙂

  6. May 3, 2017 / 4:31 am

    Great post! I love the rambling! I feel the same way sometimes. I live in the US, have a steady job and also own a home, but I feel as if I am living to work, not working to live… I just keep thinking that it will get better, keep my head up and keep on moving forward!

    • OliveandClo
      May 3, 2017 / 5:16 am

      It starts to feel all so ..not what we thought it would feel like. And I have the same mentality. Maybe 1 day we will see/feel something different. Do something different! 😌

      Thank you for reading and commenting as always (Kels!!) – sending so much love your way. 😍😘💖

  7. May 3, 2017 / 9:09 am

    Can I just say that all of the pictures on your blog are completely GORGEOUS?? 😱💕 You are a beautiful model, and all of the beach scenes are absolutely amazing!

    • OliveandClo
      May 3, 2017 / 10:03 am

      Eek! You are being much too lovely Maggie! But thank you! 💖 for making my Wednesday 😍😘 xo

      • May 3, 2017 / 10:08 am

        You’re very welcome! I meant every word. Everything is so picturesque! 😍💗

  8. May 21, 2017 / 3:51 am

    Wow! First of all, whoever takes your photo; I need them in my life! Gorgeous!
    On status Quo #1: I never knew the job situation in Australia was not that great! Heck I used to want to live in Australia after medical school and even considered attending medical school at UQ.
    I’ve always know Australia was a ridiculous expensive place to live but never full understood it until now that I read from your perspective.

    Non the less, I’m glad you’re happy & content!
    Status quo, status quo. It’s ’bout time I confront mine.?

    • May 22, 2017 / 5:14 am

      Asaake ❤️
      It’s Monday morning here in Australia (cries!) what time of the day is it where you’re from? How was your weekend (if you’ve had it?)

      Haha. You should definitely still consider moving over to Australia! We are begging for doctors and nurses. Just.. no other profession. LOL. And deadly animals aside, it is a spectacular country. 😜😜

      And I would love to meet you in person!

      Once again babe, thank you for reading and commenting. You angel.

      And yes. I think it is about time you confront yours! But in saying that, your blog in itself, with the products and thinking your prefer – you are already challenging the status quo! 😘😘

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  11. May 29, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    Glad you balanced out the whinge with a statement on your happiness level. We must always be able to see the positive mixed in with the negative to have a correct outlook upon which to base our choices in life (we always have choices, just not always the one’s we’d prefer to have to make!) – even if our hoped-for outcomes of those choices were not all that well researched or maybe even possible?

    FOUR percent for a home loan?? I’d check that if i were you and remember that we are currently living in a time of record low interest rates. They are only going to go up from here so grab it while you can. 35 years ago i paid $50 000 for a 3×1 – kilometers from the cbd and was paying 18% interest on a f/n salary of less than $1000. But then i did not have to pay for my Uni studies so i had it good i guess.

    27 and so cynical? 😉 Just wait till you are my age by which time the world will have had much longer to screw you over 🙂

    With the ever more rapidly improving and human-replacing technology the world is rushing to adopt the world we are all moving towards is going to mean a very great deal of changes and I strongly suspect generally much worse conditions of the sort you mention above.

    This will test all of us and push some way more than they can bear. I hope you 2 are not going to have to bear too much, but some planning now could save a lot of heartaches in the not-too-distant future.

    love.

    • June 5, 2017 / 6:56 am

      Haha, thanking you and for stopping by! I am glad you enjoyed it. ☺️

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