Don’t Let “Rise and Grind” Be Your Default: My Experience and A Realization

Hustle. The Grind. Work hard, play later. There’s only so much time in a day. If you aren’t doing something right now, you’re lazy; get up and WORK. 

Although I cannot speak for everyone, this is a mentality that rages in my mind; it nags at the back of my brain whenever I’m on Youtube, watching a cute bunny eating carrots. This is a mentality that is prevalent among my peers, as they talk to me about their busy lives, full of school and clubs and homework and their personal lives. This is a mentality that my parents encourage me to have, to work because that’s the “100% guaranteed” route to success (but there’s no refund). This is the mentality that many rappers, athletes, and wannabe Instagram entrepreneurs preach about. Hustle culture: it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong about it until you’re experiencing it. 

To be more specific, hustle culture is working at your limit with no breaks, everyday, because each second you “waste”, that’s one less opportunity to be successful. Even as a five year old, I couldn’t watch Dora the Explorer or PBS Kids until I finished my addition and subtraction worksheets. I couldn’t sleep until I recited all of my multiplication tables to my dad with no mistakes. I couldn’t play computer games until I spelled out each of my vocabulary words correctly, and if I misspelled a word, I would have to rewrite it 10 times. These childhood experiences shaped me into a girl with audacious dreams and a strong work ethic. But with a fiery desire to grind, comes with a lot of stress and exhaustion. 

In my own experience, hustle culture coupled with a fixed mindset is a match made in the burning depths of hell. Every week day, I grind and work, with a designated time in my day to worry about my future, knowing that I’ll be the next victim of college admissions (and then I grind and work after that). But, when I make a mistake, or when something goes wrong, then my entire schedule is messed up because I didn’t have a designated time to cry about my failures as a high school student. During the week, when work piles up, I wait for the weekend to come so I can get into full grind mode. But then the weekend comes and I lay in bed, on my phone, burnt out from the week, thinking, “I have the whole day, I can do my work later.” Then, the end of day suddenly comes, and a wave of guilt drowns me when I realize I wrote one sentence for my essay. Then, the cycle continues. 

Even just doing things that I enjoy, like hanging out with my friends, or exercising, seems like a waste of time because I feel like I should be working ahead in my classes instead. Despite knowing that I’m hard on myself even while working, I still give in to this destructive habit because I don’t really know how to do anything else. I scoff at myself after dreaming about the person that I really want to be because if I’m not working towards my dreams, what and who am I really working for? Why do I give my all to everything if it doesn’t contribute to my true aspirations? And why do I get so scared even as I work towards my dream?

Balance is key. Hustle culture has led me and many others to believe that even relaxing is a waste of time. While it’s great to have a strong work ethic, we need to acknowledge that losing oneself to work and labor is simply unhealthy, and feeds into the greedy mouths of capitalism, because those mouths are hungry for profit, not about anyone’s well-being. With this, I wish that I am able to find a middle ground between working hard for other entities and working hard for myself. In essence, I shall follow the lyrics of BTS’ “Dope”: “Every day is hustle life/I gotta make it,” but I’ll make sure to designate (multiple) times for breaks and bunny videos. 

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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