Your Hard Work may be Harming You

Hustle culture. It’s the constant work and productivity. The non-stop grind. You’re a student or working full-time, involved with hobbies, clubs, and community service; have an elaborate gym and self-care routine as well as an amazing social life. This culture is unavoidable as it’s all over social media. Influencers post their long To-Do lists, Youtube is full of “productive day in my life” vlogs, and social media is flooded with motivational quotes about working towards your dreams. Hustle culture, as defined in Forbes Magazine, is “the collective urge we currently seem to feel as a society to work harder, stronger, faster. To grind and exert ourselves at our maximum capacity, every day…” (p. 1)

Working hard is important, but the pressure created by hustle culture is causing more harm than good. Overworking yourself has serious health implications. A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that long working hours can have multiple negative health outcomes. Depression and anxiety, stress, and negative health behaviors like smoking or physical inactivity are all associated with long working hours. 

Hustle culture is over-glamorized, especially now that people have “all this free time” in quarantine. As a UW Medicine article puts it, “when you’re wrapped up in hustle culture, it doesn’t matter how many hours you log or what accomplishments you make: there is always another project to complete, deadline to meet or person to impress” (p. 5).

The effects of hustle culture can be seen all over Syracuse University’s campus. It’s normalized to pull all-nighters writing a paper or downing cups of coffee to study for an exam. Students juggle extracurriculars with their never-ending schoolwork and have accepted the idea that in order to make the most out of our time at college, we’ve got to do as much as possible. We feel pressured to jampack our schedules so we can stand out and advance ourselves professionally.

It is hard not to get wrapped up in hustle culture as a college student. We want to take advantage of the many extracurriculars, classes, and activities offered. Listen, I’ve been there. Between taking a full course load, volunteering, and writing for different publications; I have fallen victim to hustle culture. I see it in my friends, my peers, and even my professors. We are all constantly talking about our demanding schedules, the interminable piles of work, and that there are not enough hours in the day. We’re always trying to add the next best thing to our lives.

College students accept the “work hard play hard” mentality, and that’s keeping us wrapped up in hustle culture. We need to start realizing the potential short and long-term health implications of that lifestyle. Take my advice, the burnout and negative health effects are not worth the ability to brag, “I was so productive every single day this week.”