We need to give ourselves a break.
Hustle culture has ingrained in us that we must always work as hard as possible to succeed. There’s always thatvoice in the back of your head saying, “what more could you be doing?” or, “what’s next?”
Hustle culture is the mentality that one must put working hard above all else to accomplish their goals. This mindset has become so normalized for students and young professionals that we’re expected to constantly push our limits to see how much we can handle.
This idea of constant productivity is ruining our ability to appreciate the small, daily things that make us who we are. Hustle culture has created a toxic cycle of burnout, anxiety, and several other mental health problems.
In an essay titled “20 signs you’re doing better than you think you are” by Brianna Wiest, she talks about ways we can self-reflect on things we do we may not consider productive.
As university students, it is important to be kind to ourselves. After four years, we need to remember we truly are doing better than we think. If you think you could be doing better, just take a deep breath and reflect on your daily accomplishments.
You need to work hard in life—people don’t succeed overnight. However, when you push your other needs to the side in the name of ‘achieving your goals,’ you become counterproductive: anxiety levels rise, burnout increases, and motivation diminishes.
Hustling is good in bursts, ideally with down periods of recharge in between. Being on a constant grind, as many students are, can lead to a constant feeling of unease, lack of confidence, and for many, mental health issues.
Instead of being able to appreciate the work we are doing and this unique time in our lives, we are forced to think of the things that are ahead of us: the next deadline, our next semester, a potential summer job. University is said to be some of the best years of students’ lives, but instead of focusing on what they’re experiencing right now, many are getting caught up in what to accomplish next or how to add more lines to their resumes.
Always pushing yourself to do bigger and better things can make you lose sight of the smaller things that really matter.
We need to remember the importance of daily tasks, such as getting in some movement, eating three meals a day, drinking enough water, and taking your vitamins. What about paying your rent, getting groceries, hanging out with friends? These are tasks and routines you can control. When added together they help you maintain a healthy mindand lifestyle.
Grounding yourself in these routines is a good way to remember that life is bigger than landing that job, getting that promotion, or graduating top of your class.
Hustle culture isn’t going anywhere. It has become so embedded in both academic and professional environments that it’s become a way of life. The problem is that striving for the outward validation you receive when you push yourself to the limits is not sustainable.
Instead, seek personal validation for productivity in other spaces of your life. This will help maintain a healthy relationship with work and yourself. You will quickly see how many things you have accomplished without even knowing it.
These small wins truly do add up and cannot be replaced by temporary gratification.
In the era of social media and constant comparison to those online, there is the belief that everyone has their lives together. This could not be further from the truth; everyone is at different stages of their life. Do not compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter ten.
Life is no doubt a competition, but the main competition should be with yourself. Instead of constantly comparing yourself to everyone around you, compare yourself to who you were last week, or a year ago. Reflect on how far you’ve come and everything you’ve been able to do, both the small achievements and the big accomplishments.
To any student graduating this year, recently graduated, or entering university, remember to find joy in things that do not require validation from other people. Find what inspires you and motivates you to want to become a better person — for yourself.
This is where you can always come back to when you don’t think you’re doing enough.
Because you are.
Jasmine is a fourth-year global development student.
Graduation, Hustle culture, Mental health, Productivity
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