HARD KNOCK LIFE (FOR US)
Here we are, residing in the antipodes; the strange, distant step-cousin of the United Kingdom who bear the hereditary marked cynicism of our relatives. It’s like that dominating extra long index toe gene that just won’t recede. We have that sleight linguistic dexterity, with the deadpan tone that lazy 35 degree days incite. Lucky us. It’s funny at times, but when we see it dominate the gene pool of our youth, we watch as prospects become distant pipe dreams and classic cynicism turns into straight-up negativity.
If you hail from somewhere other than Sydney, you may not realise what the “millennials” of this city are facing. We’re deer in the headlights-ing a future of housing unaffordability, where we simply can’t see a world without rentals. As the prices sky-rocket I stand on and bear witness to this all-pervasive cloud of pessimism that shrouds the prospects of my kin. I won’t say that this negativity is unfounded, I know I’ve light-heartedly looked at homes where my parents once effortlessly owned - properties that I grew up on and subsequently lost, going on an unprecedented trajectory, a once seemingly feasible prospect, slipping through every one of our finger tips like $1.5million-median-price sand.
This isn’t about housing affordability, really. You’d be right to assume this is a strange turn in topics addressed by me. What this is about is that light-hearted pessimism we see around us; despite its air of humour and laugh speckled “I’ll be living in my car!” jibes, it seems to be slowly consuming the people around me, and often myself. It frightens me that the concept of money and it flowing like a river is so distant, residing in a galaxy far away, reserved for Baby-Boomers and Old Money. I have my own confusions around money, firstly; asking for what I deserve and “leaning in” is a concept that often frightens me. This stems from my own misunderstandings about the composition of money. Its all very elusive. I have had my own familial battles with “having” and “losing” and know what it feels like to have 11 course degustations at Quay, to boat in San Francisco Bay, live in the Hilton and contrastingly, not knowing whether or not rent will be paid in time and having the Salvation Army pay our electricity. I know the ends of the spectrum and I know what I want. I know what I want for those around me too.
Money isn’t the be-all and end-all of this planet. However, there is no shame in wanting the ease that prosperity can offer you. There is a quietude, an undulating serenity that security can offer us. To be prosperous can mean many things: in money, spirit, heart, body and mind. You don’t have to choose one. There is no shame in wanting tangible reward for the time spent in your field of choice. When that effort we exert, can no longer produce the outcome we desire, we become disillusioned to our world. We no longer can truly take the time to see the simple beauty around us, we no longer have our eyes open to the simple pleasures, the lovely dinners, the long walks, the 4 day holidays, the healthy eating, slow living and the time spent with our loved ones, or falling in love. Because it gets too hard. We no longer can sit in silence and awe in what is around us, and mull with red wine, good food and a group of friends, rattling on into the wee hours of the morning. Because, time is a luxury. We know this to be true. I want the sweet luxuries that prosperity can offer.
I can’t stand by and watch more of my fellow young people say “We’ll never be able to afford to live!” followed by laughter and the clink of glasses. It may be true in this moment but I refuse to allow this to be the future for myself and those around me, we have to see the future for what is really there, not being delusional to our current state, but aware of what exists outside the matrix of 12 hour job/s. I choose to see prospects and my hard work amounting to something, to allow me the ease that I see in the successful women and people I look up to. I can’t choose to give up now, giving in to paying someone elses mortgage for the rest of my life. The position that many young people are in right now is a fork in the road, a diving board for possibility and a catalyst for change. Within that, we’re seeing many incredible young people choosing entrepreneurial and creative endeavours; artists, dancers, musicians, foodies, developers, content creators and commentators. We live in a time of untapped fields of work, and young people are being asked to plumb the depths of their minds and capabilities to achieve what they desire.
It’s not to say I can’t find happiness without money; I’ve proven that I can. Not having it easy has made me into the woman that I am now, I’m eternally grateful for my hardships I’ve encountered and how they’ve shaped (and continue to shape me) as a woman. It isn’t about who’s hardships are greater, who has gone through more, rather what the hardships can teach us and the context that grief, loss, lack and pain can offer us. How can that spur us on for the future? How can we say “That’s for me!” even if it is a distant reality at this current juncture.
The laughs I shared with my mother and sister in my freezing, draughty house, amongst the grieving we were going through are priceless. No one could come close to replicate that. Though, the Salvation Army were funded by people who had the resources to give. Handing their earned money to unknown families who were in need. I ask for that prosperity for myself, so that I too can assist others get on their feet. Thats how this can work. Its a good cycle if you perpetrate it!
We continue to laugh, often stupid jokes, although now, our house isn’t so freezing and we prize the little luxuries that are offered to us. I cherish those moments. I do want and deserve to have ease too and I am happy to ask for it. Ask for it. Don’t be afraid to.
Collage by The Alchemists