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  • Writer's pictureLa Voz Latina

The grind or the unwind: Modern work culture

By: Maximo Legaspi 🇵🇭

Jeremy Marroquin-Hernandez  working on his computer at Pyon-Chen Hall on April 30, 2024. (Isai Amaya-Diaz)

Throw a coin into a group of people studying at McKeldin Library or ESJ and you’re bound to hit someone on the “grind.” The dedication to the grind, characterized by sleepless nights, weekends filled with studying, and a zealous devotion to working, is becoming more and more prevalent among students. 

With well-paying jobs becoming consistently harder to find, students are forced into throwing their all into their work to set themselves apart from the competition. Despite the positives it can bring, people who work with this sort of ethic often find themselves burnt out before they even reach their goals.

Hold up, hold up. Before you start asking, “but shouldn’t hard work be congratulated?” It should. When practiced well, having a good work ethic is one of the most important skills one can have. Especially when looking for a job, showing that you can put one foot in front of the other on a consistent basis can prove to be useful. You’ll certainly get a lot of compliments from the older generations, who had the idea of “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps” drilled into them from a young age. 

Hard work is needed to succeed in life, especially for people with high-reaching goals. Research positions don’t just offer themselves to people who put in the bare minimum. You don’t become an editor at The Washington Post by slacking off.

The issue arises when the work begins to consume a person, taking up all of their time until they become nothing more than a machine. When you ask anyone what their dream life is, you’d be very hard pressed to find anyone who dreams of sitting at a desk and plodding away for a majority of their day.

However, the blame for these mindsets shouldn’t be put onto people themselves. In a society that prioritizes profits over people and that berates people for taking time for themselves, it’s only natural that such ideas are internalized and made to seem normal. But living like that is not healthy. 

Those who argue against work culture can often come across as naive or inexperienced. After all, hard work makes the world go ‘round, and anyone who’s worked a job in any form knows that. 

If one grew up with an immigrant family, the idea of putting your all into everything was instilled in them from a young age, and anything short of that was seen as a lack of effort. If one is working several jobs a day to keep your family afloat, breaks were out of the question.

In an effort to find a better life for both yourself and the ones around you, is it necessary to lose yourself in the process? Being able to be a homeowner,  be financially independent, and  live more than comfortably are things many people strive for, but at the cost of what? Not being able to enjoy life, in all its large and small moments? There are certainly ways for one to balance having both a successful personal and professional life, but such a thing is not possible for everyone.

In a perfect world, people would be able to pursue their passions regardless of its profitability, but we find ourselves living in an imperfect world. Issues such as an overbearing work culture are hard to solve, seeing as the alternatives to working until you drop dead are being born rich or finding something you are truly passionate about, regardless if it brings in money or not. 

While this issue may not be solved in any of our lives, it wouldn’t hurt to remember that life isn’t all about work. Take some time to walk around and relax, hard as that may be with life moving as it does. Do the best you can to reward yourself. 

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