The unhealthy nature of hustle culture

How productivity doesn’t always have to look busy and overwhelmed

Anna Malesiewski, Features Editor

Two weeks ago, as I prepared to begin the spring 2022 semester, I began to experience an immense amount of stress.
This was totally abnormal for me. For my entire life, I’ve loved school, and first days of school were always exciting times for me.
Not this year.
I dreaded going back to school and back to classes, and even now, I kind of dread being here.
I’ve been trying my best to be resilient. I hear it from everyone around me — “Just push through! You are strong and resilient!”
But to be honest, I’m kind of sick of being resilient.
I have always prided myself on my ability to be resilient and “roll with the punches,” as they say. I have always been able to bounce back better than ever from difficult circumstances and situations.
I have also measured my “resilience” on a scale of productivity – asking myself, “How productive can I be while trying to cope and heal?”
But now, I’ve changed my tune. I don’t think that’s what true resilience is, even though that might be what our culture pushes at us.
Over the last few months, I have found it more productive to lie on my couch and watch Netflix than I have to work overtime or grind out my schoolwork.
And don’t get me wrong, those things are important. Money and education are valuable things.
But lately, they are becoming less and less valuable to me.
I always envisioned myself growing up and being some sort of a “girlboss” figure – a powerful alpha woman who throws herself into her career and makes at least six figures, all while balancing a house, children and a husband.
But I’m realizing more and more lately it actually might be impossible to balance all those things and give each one the attention it demands or deserves.
I always saw my life going in a certain direction and now the thought of my life going in the direction I always wanted it to go scares me.
And actually, if my life goes in that direction, I might have a heart attack at 40 or wrinkles on my face at 25.
But I feel like it will make me less me, or make me less powerful or make me less of a woman, if I set boundaries with what I can and can’t take on. I feel like I will command less respect from others if I’m not working myself into the ground.
Society expects so much from us as women – we are expected to provide financially and provide children and be a pretty face and have a banging body and be soft yet outspoken. I feel like I can’t measure up to what a woman should be and even if I could, at what cost?
It’s been super difficult to navigate these feelings and emotions when for so long, I have put my identity and self-worth into my work ethic, productivity or tasks I take on. It’s been really hard to not succumb to low self-esteem while also resting, coping in healthy ways and healing.
Because for almost my entire life, I have defined myself by one of the most under looked unhealthy coping mechanisms – busyness and productivity. And that just isn’t working for me anymore.
I’m working every day to recognize that my value does not lie in my productivity. My value does not lie in how many lines my email signature has and it does not lie in how many hours I work a week.
My value lies in who I am, how I treat those around me and how I provide not financially, but how I provide love and encouragement and kindness and humor.
I just wish society valued these things more so I don’t feel like I’m the only one.


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