Since the moment I entered high school, I’ve noticed the romanticism surrounding an idea I like to refer to as “grind culture.” It’s what you see on YouTube videos labeled “How I Became a Millionaire” or “5-hour Productive Study with Me.” Modern media, and often even our own peers, like to perpetuate the idea of the supposed glamour that comes with constant work, dedication, and overexertion.
It begins with creators on TikTok and Instagram preaching the benefits of waking up at 5:00 AM, working out every day, eating like an Olympic athlete, and getting grades the likes of which Harvard salivates for. It’s not only people in the public eye, however, that enjoy encouraging extreme productivity — it comes from the people around us too. We all know that one kid (or many kids for that matter) who prides themselves on waking up early, getting their work done, working a part-time job, and participating in as many extracurricular activities as they can get their hands on. It’s worth saying that many people do this but remain silent about their endeavors. It’s the students that announce the importance of this lifestyle that cause deep problems.
In theory, it sounds wonderful. You’re productive, fit, busy, and accomplished, and you can end every day feeling like you have done good work. However, there comes a day with all of us where we simply cannot achieve everything we set out to conquer in a single day. When we buy into the mindset that we have to be “grinding” all the time, taking breaks or falling a little behind becomes a crime. When taking a pause becomes a guilt-ridden task, it becomes a standard to commit to large goals every day. When we cannot accomplish those goals and, (because we happen to be human) it feels like a failure.
Worst of all, perhaps, is that because of our own inner monologue and the society in which we live, we often set unrealistic expectations for things we love. Academia is something many students at LGHS are passionate about, and when the job prioritizes completion over comprehension and learning, the love for education dies out quickly.
There is simply no glamour in falling out of love for things we once took pride in because of internal or external pressure. Normalizing the idea of taking breaks, taking care of ourselves, and even having bad days every once in a while is a huge benefit to our long-term happiness and mental health. Waking up three minutes before class, skipping workouts for a week, enjoying weekend doughnuts, and hanging out with friends when you should be studying every once in a while is a very good thing. The bottom line is, we shouldn’t be “grinding” all the time. That concept sucks the love out of every project we approach. Instead, we need to be setting realistic goals and understanding that bad days come. It’s okay to have a bad day, a bad week, or a bad few months, especially in the world we’re living in today. When you take time for yourself, you make the world a better place when you return.