It was Sunday night and I was doing the dishes while listening to the soundtrack of my favorite Disney princess movie, Tangled. I was singing along to “When Will My Life Begin” when suddenly a conversation about “when your life begins” started among my siblings and myself. What my 10 year old brother had to say, took me by surprise. He said, “I guess life begins when you get a job because I’m just in school right now.” This made me realize that he has been taught that he isn’t doing anything “productive” because he’s not working and producing goods or services for people to consume.
Let’s erase the idea that you have to be constantly working or “grinding” in order to succeed. This is a toxic mentality because for one, it wears you out mentally and physically, and two, it makes people think that rest is not important. To be your best self, you need rest and you need to regroup – this isn’t some new abstract theory, it’s literally how the human body functions. There is no way that you can just be go go go all the time. It is not possible nor is it healthy. The common misconception is that “if you rest you rust,” but that is absolutely not true. You should not have to feel guilty for needing a break. You were not created to work yourself into the ground.
“To be your best self, you need rest and you need to regroup – this isn’t some new abstract theory, it’s literally how the human body functions.”
Everyone has a different idea of success. Some people think that it is working 60+ hours in a week, for some it’s about personal growth, for some it’s helping those in need, and for some it’s getting out of bed and completing one task for that day. Each one of those is perfectly okay because everyone has their own pace. The whole idea of “you have to keep grinding” or “y’all ain’t ready for this” because you’re working on a project is just a front for social media. Have your actions speak louder than your posts.
Not everyone has a clear idea of what they want to do in life and if you do, you’re one of the lucky ones. People today make it seem like you can’t fail, like that is just not an option. If someone decides to not go to college or not pursue a job in a high paying field, they are considered a “failure.” Even if they do both of these things and decide that it isn’t for them, it is still considered a “failure.” When someone wants to do something unconventional it’s considered a “hobby” rather than an actual career path. It is as if doing something you actually enjoy is not valuable because you’re not completely miserable doing it. Society has emerged into facilitating this notion that suffering is the only inherent characteristic for success.
“People today make it seem like you can’t fail, like that is just not an option.”
How many women have bared the burden of hearing, “You’re wasting your talent by being a stay at home mom.” First of all, I just want to say, leave women the hell alone. Capitalism has an interesting way of trickling down and permeating how we register what we yield as “success.” It has tricked us into believing that if we aren’t making money every single day, and if we are not in constant labor for 9+ hours daily, then we aren’t leading a “good” or “fulfilled” life. It is woven into our psyche to believe that our sole purpose in life is to work and that success is measured by how exhausted you are. We always need something to “do,” or else we’re deemed as useless, not only by society, but also by our own selves. That’s not success, that’s concerning.
We’ve grown to idealize this lifestyle of constant “grinding” to the point where healthy, normal sleep and eating cycles are considered rare. A capitalist society has inevitably bred generations where continuous labor is seen as “living” and “thriving.” We’re taught to always have our time occupied with some type of work, and if you don’t, then you’re a waste because you aren’t contributing to society in a conventional way. Our self-worth has become aligned and synonymous with our ability to produce work and how we can portray that “grind” via social media. Pictures of your third cup of coffee of the day when it’s only 12pm, statuses like, “Haven’t slept in 48 hours because I’m staying on that grind!” or dumb quotes such as, “While you’re sleeping, someone else is getting YOUR dream” all allude to this notion that rest is insufficient and a waste rather than a necessary human function. Continuous labor with scarce rest is conditioned as the norm. We are romanticizing exhaustion.
“Our self-worth has become aligned and synonymous with our ability to produce work and how we can portray that ‘grind’ via social media.”
We need to actively re-train our ways of thinking. Unlearn the lie that you cannot function unless you’re doing a million and one things at a given time. Unlearn the idea that your worth is based on how many things you have accomplished. Unlearn the notion that your sole purpose on this planet is to output as much labor as possible while making money and neglecting necessary rest. Reevaluate what you consider to be “success” and why. Vital rest should not be ridiculed regardless of the circumstances. Constant suffering and exhaustion should not be admirable states of being. We need to learn how to address our needs and ourselves in healthy ways, not constantly run away and drown our lives in labor.