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Forums / Young people / 'White Picket Fence'

Topic: 'White Picket Fence'

4 posts, 0 answered
  1. Billiee
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Billiee avatar
    16 posts
    9 September 2020

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm sure alot of you have heard the lay metaphor 'White picket fence life' ... if not, this metaphor usually starts to relates at a certain age (late 20s) where you settle down with a partner, get married, have kids, live in the family home which comes together as the 'white picket fence life'

    So it's 2020 and times have REALLY changed but there is still alot of stigma and weight behind this term for young people in their late 20s.

    I have been doing alot of mental training to try and get this toxic thought out of my head as i don't believe it's is one of my own thoughts but merely a pressure of society that we have been born with blue printed into our minds.

    For those who experience this struggle in society i'd like to hear any thoughts as to your experience with this ... if it's something you think about alot? or if its never crossed your mind.


  2. white knight
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    white knight avatar
    9412 posts
    10 September 2020 in reply to Billiee
    Hi, welcome

    I'm 64yo. Let's assume we were born in 1899 as my grandfather was.

    Horses were the means if transport or push bike. No phones. As a teenager the Spanish flu was the pandemic of the times. Then ww1 rocked the world. A full war meant everyone was active in the effort not like some modern wars now where airplanes are in bombing missions (ISIS).

    So we lose hundreds of thousands men out of a low 7 million or so. The war ends and cars more popular but only for the rich. You dream if that white picket fence life because having kids in your early 20's is the norm, well before your child bearing years dry up. But alas, the Great depression comes in 1930. Nearly everyone starves. No work, queue for food tickets. Just as this ends ww2 begins.

    If you were lucky missing out on being drafted then your sons or nephews were not and they sailed away to confront the brutal Japanese. Places like Papua or Burma gave you Malaria or Berri Berri.
    Finally you're 46yo and the war ends. A window of prosperity begins only to be followed by the Korean war and the Vietnam war.

    This demonstrates how life was, not just in my grandparents period, the 20th century but even harder before then. Now, if you were born say around 1990 like my daughter's the greatest challenges they've faced is this latest pandemic. 9/11 was tragic as were other world events but none of those events prevented being fed or changed our lifestyle.

    The modern way of life is to have children in your late 30's or rely on technology to help you in your forties. The result is raising teenagers in your 50's all for fulfilling dreams of travel in your 20's the reverse of how it was, to travel in older age. This changed the whole "white picket fence" ideal.

    So yes Vivid has brought to us a changed life with far reaching impact but it's impact is vast because, in comparison to any other era in history....we've never had it so good. Today while in lockdown in Melbourne people can talk to lived one's as far as the other side of the world, get income from the Govt, watch movies, play games and commonly- eat what they like.

    I don't know if I've answered your question or not. What I do know is we should get this pandemic into perspective - that such world changes are actually normal. Also, we can achieve the lifestyle of the "white picket fence" if we make choices early and not mimic what others do. Set your goals and work hard to achieve them once Vivid is history and the economy bounces back which will happen.
    1 person found this helpful
  3. Wishes
    Wishes avatar
    30 posts
    10 September 2020 in reply to Billiee

    Hi Billiee,

    As someone in my twenties, I don't know whether the same pressure I feel is ingrained or just a pressure that comes with having access to social media and seeing others succeed.

    While I completely see @white knight's perspective, which has really opened my eyes to the way life has changed for the better, I also think it's okay to acknowledge the hardships of modern life.

    For us, being able to afford a house deposit is near impossible without full-time work and a partner, and even then, it's really tough. For this generation, we are dealing with social wars as opposed to physical ones, and the bombardment of social media bringing every battle out there into our hands. We also have social competition in being able to support ourselves, operate side hustles, participate in university programs that are only getting more competitive and employability that is plummeting.

    I don't say this to be negative. I say this to ensure that you are justified in feeling the heat of the white picket fence lifestyle. So what can we do to combat this?

    • Set non-traditional goals for ourselves (hobbies, social catch-ups, saving for things outside of a house deposit)
    • Remove expectation (I do not need to be married, renting or in a full-time job by this age)
    • Acknowledge the things of the past (yes, others may have had it harder but this does not invalidate the situation I am living in)
    • Find the optimism amongst it all (connection online, family and friends weighing the same in our lives, the success in careers, housing etc.)
    • And, deciding that not conforming is not failing (your journey is not comparable)

    I hope this sparks some thought!


    3 people found this helpful
  4. white knight
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    white knight avatar
    9412 posts
    10 September 2020 in reply to Wishes
    Hi Wishes,

    You have highlighted some very valid points. Being a baby boomer I'm oblivious to some you've made.

    I am however a little baffled by the difficulties facing young adults being capable buying a home. It isn't satisfactory to throw one's hands in the air and surrender to the difficulties.

    In 1973, 4 days after turning 17yo I joined the RAAF. Although I only served 3 years that qualified me for a home loan (now it's 6 years). It was for $25,000 them days, all I had to do was secure a block of land which I did 50 minutes north of Melbourne where land was cheaper. $25000 was about 70% the cost of a new home so a small second mortgage was needed.

    I'm suggesting I made my own luck.

    It wasn't smooth sailing, I worked 3 jobs two that was shift work one of them 12 hour shifts. I don't hear of people working that hard now say 60-72 hours a week. Furthermore one job was as a prison officer and another in hospital security both high paid but undesirable working environments.

    At 40yo my marriage failed. To get another house I built a kit home. I'd never done that before. Again I had to work 3 jobs plus build the house. None of my homes were in the city- prices way too high.

    These are different times. Jobs are harder to come by but there is also more expectations jobs will be easy once a degree is obtained- not so.

    One thing is a fact- you'll never get anywhere without hard work. The white picket fence is possible maybe not in the city or close to work nor with two bathrooms ...but it can be a goal and a bridge to returning to the city down the track.


    1 person found this helpful

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