Hustle culture is a phenomenon that has spread from the real world’s expectation of constant progression and success – a by-product of the American or Canadian dream – to the internet, where it is being transformed and mutated and placed in a new, worse, Shape.
In a school as competitive as Queen’s and a world as tough as ours, we’ve been immersed in a culture that values success above all else. Success is critical to our grades, career prospects, and surviving in a challenging economy. In particular, programs such as Commerce and Engineering embody this need for success and develop a reputation for being difficult and competitive in different ways.
In addition to the degree requirements, Queen’s is full of clubs and employment opportunities. Each represents a new line for your resume – a new stepping stone to success. In the end, internships, retail jobs, and 8 a.m. classes all add up.
To succeed you need to hurry, and to hurry you need to sacrifice sleep, rest and relaxation. Of course we do. For Queen’s students, grades matter most, and in a competitive, top-tier school like ours, you can’t afford to get a C or take a step back just to relax. There’s tremendous pressure to hit a bar that’s a little too high.
Of course, constantly working and never resting is extremely bad for your mental and even physical health. Work takes its toll and a good work-life balance is necessary to maintain a good lifestyle. It’s not good to always be hunched over a desk and never see your friends, but the bustle culture mindset doesn’t allow for a healthy balance.
Instead, it insists on working constantly and overloading your schedule with a new activity that you can benefit from in some way. It eliminates the few hobbies you have left by turning them into small businesses.
Of course, I don’t want to dismiss the necessity of making money, nor do I want to be condescending in telling diligent students what they already know. Every day we are inundated with self-care tips and mental health workshops.
But what to do when deadlines are inflexible and invoices have to be paid?
Of course, with inflation making everything more expensive and gas prices remaining high, the pressure to succeed is on us more than ever. So I want to take my critical eye off the students and instead look at Queen’s and the faculties within.
Queen’s benefits from hard-working students and staff working around the clock to maintain its spotless reputation. Recently, Queen’s has been offering more support to students as the importance of personal health and safety has become a prominent issue in recent years and COVID-19 has exposed many flaws in the way this university operates.
But that doesn’t change the fact that most faculties haven’t adjusted to contain the academic side of the hustle culture.
When it comes to talking about mental health and self-care, it’s often the individual’s responsibility to take the time to reflect and step back to take care of themselves.
Students should get together to share the burden of work and lighten each other’s burdens. But we also need to look at the structure that guides our day-to-day lives and think about how Queen’s might change to ensure we’re both literate and able to take care of ourselves.
Busy culture shouldn’t mean sacrificing our physical and mental health for education.