There is magic in 5 pm. When things stop, laptops go to sleep. My brother, Alan, rushes out of his room and knocks on my sister, Ivy’s, door in a weird rhythm from a cartoon. We gently go downstairs. Grandpa, sitting at the table on the right, beckons us over. We each get our bowls of rice. I sit at my seat, marveling at the cauliflower and eggplant. I take a bite of their juices and realize that this is when my world goes a little bit slower.
Lately, I’ve been trying to become more aware of my own workaholic tendencies. When I was younger, I had a phase where I needed to fill every second of the day with things to do. Namely, productive things to do. Things that were “productive” included schoolwork, reading, more schoolwork, working, writing, and even more schoolwork. At one point I did all the problems in my advanced Calculus textbook. Ahead of class schedule. I am, in some ways, still the same. My days look like this right now: work out, schoolwork, write, take care of errands, classes, lunch, workout, classes, meetings, and then the magical 5 pm. I’m busy, is what I’m trying to say. I’ve stopped trying to make myself busier though, and I’ve learned over the years to reframe what productive means.
I watched a John Green video the other day (I’ve been obsessed with the vlogbrothers channel ever since my friend introduced me), and he, and I’m sure many others out there, posits that all things are productive. One can doodle, and that is productive. One can sleep, and that is productive. One can eat, and that is also productive. Productivity exists in many forms. Not all things have to contribute to work. Work, work, work, hustle, hustle, hustle is a toxic mentality that eventually will lead to burnout. Of course, there are superhumans out there who love their jobs so much; they just can’t stop. Which, I think I might be one of them.
Ever since quarantine, I’ve picked up some old hobbies that I dropped and learned new hobbies. I’ve also gotten exponentially busier, which seems like the opposite experience of a lot of other people. Here’s my list of obligations at the moment:
Juggling all of them is hard, but I’ve found joy in all of them. It’s a sort of happy, productive zone. Now, I don’t think everyone has found that zone yet. I had to intentionally choose and decide on the projects that I found most fulfilling, interesting, rewarding, and fun to embark on, and I had to intentionally say no to other projects that I found would just suck the energy out of me. It’s important to figure out which things actually fuel YOU instead of which things that require you to fuel them.
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.
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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.