At university, there is a certain culture of productivity. Living up to your predecessors and catching up with your peers often comes hand-in-hand with getting the best grades. But this is creating an entire generation of students who base their self-worth on the number on the page.
70, 68, 72, 74. That’s my self worth. Or, at least, how I have seen it over the past three years. But now I am out of university, I have little to no defining traits which I consider myself proud of, as everything I have worked towards and every achievement I have gained is in academia.
When I started writing this piece, I hadn’t found out my final university grades. Now I know them, looking back on what I have written already resonates with me even more. I did not live up to the standards I set myself and, ultimately, it left me ruined.
And I don’t consider myself to have low self esteem. I am lucky enough to have the most lovely and supportive family and friends. But grades and academic work continue to define me. I think it stems from school; being the “shy girl” who couldn’t talk to anyone, but I at least could get my head down and work hard with no distractions!
But shyness isn’t the sole problem – the problem is our culture of work. When you really think about the 5 day working, 2 day resting, that many adults across the world spend their entire lives on, it is frightening. And as I enter into endless job interviews, boasting my ability to work hard, I can’t help but feel panicked about when the burnout will hit me.
My life is set by goal posts, but now I am at the end. Spending my days applying for jobs, picking up voluntary roles, and writing, I’ve not let myself relax. But I am finding relaxation in these tasks – maybe that’s not so bad.
Image courtesy of Evie S.