hard work vs hard work
I was a lucky kid. I was a lucky kid because I just happened to fit the description of a ‘good student’. Because I fit the description of a ‘good student’, I grew up with the belief that I was intelligent enough, and wasn’t held back by a lack of confidence. School felt comfortable not because I was smart, but because I knew how to meet the requirements.
Many of us value hard work. But I wonder if hard work always pays off. If we follow the definition of hard work laid out to us from school, from the way it has been done before us, we probably see hard work as more work. Working longer hours. Working more jobs.
And while working more hours, a lot of hours, is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting, and sure, sometimes necessary, I don’t know if it’s the smarter choice. It’s hard. But it’s easier than doing things differently. It’s easier than taking a risk.
When I was fifteen my maths teacher told me I had sunk to the lowest common denominator because my friend wrote fuck triangles in my workbook during a trigonometry class. It’s pretty safe to say my ‘good student’ status was up for grabs. The following year I dropped out of maths, I dropped out of science, I dropped out of the high school band. It looked like I had stopped working hard but in fact, I was making the most intelligent choices of my school career.
During high school we were encouraged to study a lot. To dedicate a few months of our very young adult lives to meeting the requirements of standardised testing, to get into university, to do it all over again. Study is valued over sleep which renders the study almost completely useless. Study is valued over creativity, social connections, rest and independent thinking. It wrecks havoc on the lives of teenagers who above anything else need freedom, connection, experimentation and a lot of sleep.
To do things as you’re told, to go by the book, that all works well in the short term. But what does it lead to? What about the long term?
For most of us, working more is the easy part. The hard part? What work do you actually want to do? What kind of life do you really want to have? Why aren’t you sleeping eight hours a night? Can you have that uncomfortable conversation? Make that hard decision? Can you start that blog and post on it every day even if it’s only your mum who reads it?
The most productive decision I have made in recent history is to rest every day. I create better work. I make scary decisions that pay off. I feel happier. Doing less is the hard work that creates so much more.
p.s: fuck triangles.