I wrote about this a while ago. But I read an article recently that has reignited my feeling towards this issue, so here we go again- why are we so obsessed with overworking?
Corporations want to make us all slaves to the glorious corporate world. We tow the line- hook, line and sinker. Make no mistake- I’ve fallen victim to it before, and still do sometimes.
The generation(s) before us have cultivated a way of life that pushes the boundaries of what is humanly possible. And they want to ensure that we continue this trend of overworking. Sleeping at desks, working weekends and copious amounts of coffee have become key attributes of work life.
But I want to know- to what end? What are we slaving away for? Explain practically to me what we’re trying to achieve here. Is going to work supposed to be excruciatingly painful? I think not.
We need to stop the obsession with depleting ourselves as a badge of honour. For many of us, we are not working hard unless we are being seen by others to work hard. I see this as more prevalent amongst young people in Africa. There seems to be no other metric for life except for how much we can overwork ourselves. It’s almost a competition.
Redefining hard work means learning to value work that is carried out comfortably, reasonably and efficiently. We should be striving for meaningful, enjoyable work that challenges us in a qualitative way. This idea that we should twist and bend ourselves to fit the corporate mould with the hopes that we too can one day acquire wealth and power is elusive.
Can we have a corporate revolution? Can the generation before us who are now at the helm of these sought-after corporations redefine what it means to work at these firms?
I think this revolution also starts with us in our early and mid 20s- what are we teaching our younger siblings just joining university? Are we engraining in them the idea that slaving away at the library all year is what will get them that first degree? Are we encouraging them to learn about the world, teaching them to cultivate healthy habits and normalising self-care? If not, we must.
Parents have to understand too. There’s a fear that children that are not obsessively working, can’t be successful. But what we need to show them is that this enslavement doesn’t make us independent. It makes us dependent- dependent on careers, money, cars and success to validate the lives we live.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation; and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
Overworking will not be my badge of honour- nimekataa!
© Tessy Maritim