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 quo. Gone 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