Opinion | America’s ‘grind culture’ is toxic

The ‘grind culture’ is instilled in people their entire lives and results in nothing but toxic work habits.


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Chloe Peterson, Opinions Columnist

A tweet went viral by @ShaylaRacquel this week that read “My mom is APPALLED when I told her I took off and say “no reason I just needed a day” when she asks why. Baby Boomers do not believe in using their PTO for no reason.”

Replies to her tweet included people who mentioned that their parents have “thousands” of hours of PTO, but never use it because they claim to have no reason to take time off.

Our parents’ generation has always stressed being ‘available’ for work. Success, to them, means coming in on days off when they need it and never saying no to bosses.

And sure, you may be successful, but will you be happy?

Life isn’t all about work.

Despite popular belief, the mentality of ‘waiting for the weekend’ is not a healthy or productive one to have. It’s 5/7 of a life that you’re wasting away.

According to Erin Griffith of the New York Times, feeling the need to be constantly working to get ahead is called ‘performative workaholism.’ It’s showing up to work early and leaving work late, because if you don’t, you get the feeling that someone will get ahead of you. You’ll lose the promotion to someone who is willing to work two extra hours each day. The ‘live to work’ culture comes from a place of fear.

It’s been instilled in young people from the start that they need to ‘grind’ to be successful. Get good grades, be at the top of your high school class, do an exorbitant amount of extracurriculars, and you’ll be successful. It doesn’t matter if you don’t sleep or you never take care of yourself or you never do anything for fun — “you can rest when you’re dead.”

In high school, I once worked with someone who was a Division I cross country athlete. One night, he was close to passing out multiple times while working, but he was still talking about how he needed to run. “The grind never stops,” he said.

He ended up running two miles that night, fighting off the urge to pass out the entire time.

There’s nothing against having goals and working toward them. But when you push yourself to the brink of exhaustion, or to the point where you hate what you’re doing, it becomes a problem.

According to a Forbes article by Samantha Radocchia, the only way for companies to combat the ‘grind culture’ is to address it from the start. This is difficult to achieve, because investors in the company, especially start-ups, are looking for people who will put their all into the company to make sure it’s successful. Venture capitalists aren’t going to invest in a company that appears lazy.

There are ways, Radocchia says, to get away from the venture capitalism way of doing things. New companies don’t always need a large investment to be successful. There are different models of working that makes it better and more sustainable for everyone.

During a time when millions are unemployed in America due to COVID-19 shutdowns, there is no shame in being unproductive. You’re not going to fall behind because you’re not toiling at your work from inside your home. You’ll be just like millions of other Americans trying to make it through this time without going mad.

Work isn’t meant to be hated every second of every day. There will be some difficult days, but the ‘living for the weekend’ mentality your entire life is toxic and a recipe for disaster.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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