The Myth of #Grind Culture

- Rufeida Alhatimy

It’s that time of year when many of us actually start feeling how burnt out we are from such a busy year. This past term may have been the most difficult one for many of us as we came out of lockdown, a situation that injected within us a false illusion of time. When everything was online last year, it was a lot easier to end one zoom call, then jump into the next Teams meeting, and from there join a book club or a ‘virtual coffee’ meet up, and simultaneously deal with deadlines [insert many other student activities…]. Now that we’re having to balance the hybrid online team meetings, with the in person classes, catch ups with family and friends alongside studies and other responsibilities, our body longs for a break. Yet when we take a moment to scroll through our social media feeds, whether that’s instagram, LinkedIn, or even certain group chats, we see that people are #OntheGrind, that their routines consist of #RiseAndGrind, and #Hustling. We start to question ourselves, and exactly what we’ve managed to achieve in the space of the past 24 hours. We start feeling unproductive, unmotivated, and…. somewhat useless?

I’ve been there before. I attempted to #Hustle, to #RiseAndGrind, and to constantly stay #Hustling- that was especially the case last year when everything was online and “I had time”. I thought that by continuously hustling I will achieve the big things that I set out to achieve. I thought that because I enjoyed what I was doing, from the projects, to my studies, and my work, that I would not get tired or burn out. Then life slapped me on the face when the opposite happened. 

I got burnt out. 

I didn’t achieve big things, or advance further in what I was doing. Instead, I was operating on autopilot.



My heart wanted to do what I loved, but physically, I had no energy to make it happen.

Lauren Gillet’s Stop the World blog channel is a recent discovery (I don’t take credit for discovering it, she kindly shared it on a group chat, and I was simply inspired). Lauren’s Stop the World blog revolves around mental health advocacy, and it’s a place where she courageously shares her experience on mental health, amongst many other things. However, what stood out the most to me is the constant reminder to ‘stop the world’. It made me ask myself ‘when was the last time I took a break and stopped the world from spinning around me?’, ‘when was the last time I stopped the social media world and took a break from the toxic productivity that’s flaunted within it?’, ‘when was the last time I stopped the world to ensure that my priorities are straight, and that I can savour moments before they slip out of my hands whilst I’m on a confused autopilot mode?

I have now become super conscious of working to the point where I forget how to enjoy what I love doing. Grind culture is a myth. As long as you’re a human being- which you are- over exerting yourself will burn you out and be detrimental to your wellbeing. Noone is able to constantly be #OnTheGrind 24/7, they will eventually crack.

This is especially important to many of you who are classed as “underrepresented students”. You are already dealing with personal, social, and cultural issues on top of your studies, or that internship/ training contract/ work applications amongst many other normal student activities. You are already indirectly pushing through, and pushing big in the background. So remember to put in an extra effort, an extra thought to take care of yourself. And when you need to, #StopTheWorld.

You don’t have to “grind”- you’re not designed to be a cup of coffee, you were designed to be whole. You cannot be whole if your energy, body, mind, and emotions are being grounded by the world.