After being on break for almost two months now, I have come to a realization: I am obsessed with productivity. I find it almost impossible to take breaks and the idea of sitting home doing nothing literally puts a knot in the pit my stomach. I haven’t always been like this and am quite unsure how I evolved into this extremely toxic habit, but as of late I have been basing my own validity off of how hard I am working.
Don’t get me wrong, working hard is so extremely important and absolutely essential to any success in life. My issue is with the fact that I don’t know when to stop. My job while I am home on break is not consistent—some days I will have a full day of work and others I’ll have nothing. The days that I have nothing have literally been torture. Waking up any later than 9 am freaks me out and makes me feel like I’ve already wasted half my day. If I don’t do absolutely everything on my to do list for the day I end up laying in bed thinking about it till 2 am, then finally falling asleep out of pure exhaustion only to wake up again at 6 am the next morning. This obsession with productivity that I’ve developed has left me in a perpetual state of anxiety. I don’t have diagnosed anxiety or anything like that, but I always feel like there is something weighing down my chest because there is something else that needs to be done.
The idea of “hustling” and being “on the grind” and “productive” has become so glamorized throughout society nowadays that I don’t think I’m alone in my feeling. I ESPECIALLY see it on social media promoted to young girls. Every YouTube video is titled “A Productive Day In My Life” and obviously I watch them too. I watch girls my age doing 1000 different things in one day—staying up to date on assignments, having a social life, staying fit, working, traveling every weekend, etc.—and can’t help but feel that I need to be doing more. Like I said earlier, it’s come to the point where I get anxious about taking a break.
The “hustle” culture is toxic. It promotes comparison between the routines and habits of completely different people and lifestyles. It is not sustainable and leads to burnout. Success is success no matter how long it takes you to get there. Also, success doesn’t always mean having done everything in life that you’ve ever wanted to accomplish. Success is simply being happy with where you’re at, and trusting that through hard work and NECESSARY periods of break and rest, you will continue on in the right direction.
This is advice that I need to hear myself. If you feel this way at all, know that you are not alone. It is okay to rest. We need to rest. In order to perform the best we possibly can, we need to rest. The ideal is to work smarter, not harder. If you’re not in a traditional 9-5 job or you’re in school, time block for your own sanity. Set time when you will work to the best of your abilities, and time when you will look away from your social media and your emails and anything else at all having to do with work, and relax.
I’m trying so hard to work on it. If you found your own truth in any of this at all, I encourage you to work on it as well. Don’t ignore it or push it away till you get to the point where you’re so worn out you can’t go on. Don’t let it get to the point when you start showing physical symptoms of your mental exhaustion. Take a step back now and I’ll do it with you. Allow your break and your rest to reignite the fire inside of you.