The Daily Grind May Come With That Failing Pressures.
I’m sure at some point in your life or another you’ve heard or read the following quote:
If that isn’t the truth then I don’t know what is. But, if we’re being honest, it’s more than just our dreams that scare us. It’s almost like death; in the sense that you don’t really know what’s going to happen, you can only plan and execute so much and no more. After that, it feels like your life is left to chance and achieving all the goals you’ve set for yourself could potentially not happen. Now that, to me, is just as or maybe even more frightening than my dreams.
‘You’ve Gotta Secure That Bag, Girl!’
The media, workplaces, homes, and colleges perpetuate this “hustle/daily grind culture” – which forces us (especially women) to feel a constant need to be on the go, working, grinding, or hustling. This culture affects POC more than it does the rest; especially considering how we are portrayed to the world through mass media. There are very few television series that doesn’t show how we as POC have to “work twice as hard to get half as far”. We’ve all heard and seen it.
Within every sphere, be it corporate, media, entertainment, or education, this mindset is rampant. You’ve heard it at least once from some of the greatest minds in communities of color, about how they had to “work twice as hard to get half as far” and that it leaves little room for mistakes and even less room for all-out failures. It’s funny because they say this all the time and yet no one really talks about how hard it is to thrive with this burden of a culture weighing on us.
No one talks about how it amplifies what should be minor detours of failure, placing excessive pressure and stress on a person. We don’t hear them as loudly when it comes to addressing the impact that this toxic culture has on us, to the point where many of us may literally work ourselves sick. Many suffer in workspaces just to ‘secure the bag’.
Ashley Kirkwoodmar in her article speaks about how this mentality is one of futility due to the impact of institutional racism. She states that regardless of how hard we work we are never going to be viewed equally because ‘they’ simply don’t want us there. The level of constant discomfort and inadequacy being felt due to this fallacy takes a toll on one’s mental health, especially when your failure is simply due to your complexion. Many times, we create this façade and fetishize success without stopping to think about the numerous challenges associated with it, as well as the implications of them on our mental health.
We often rest our self-worth on our bank accounts, our grades, promotions, how many hours we work, our need for multiple incomes, and how we compare to others in our fields. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to accomplish more and lead a comfortable life, but in this constant preparation for our future, we neglect our mental and physical health, which may end up crippling the future we’ve worked so hard for.
The Daily Grind: Setbacks, Not Steps-Back
Failure is something that affects different people in varying degrees. As people who are set on achieving a set of goals, we are no stranger to failures, however, how we treat these failures is what matters most. There are several theories surrounding the link between failure and depression, suicidal thoughts, high stress levels, and anxiety. Societal pressures of success don’t do much to alleviate any of these experiences either, especially as it relates to people of color and our daily grind culture.
I can show you many of my friends (and you may probably relate as well) who wake up in an anxiety-induced panic during the middle of a holiday break over some overdue assignment which they’ve already submitted. The fear of failure can simultaneously motivate and cripple us. It is how we deal with it, however, that determines that outcome.
Realistically, it is hard to make sense of failure while our heart sinks as we load our grading portal and see that F pop up. It’s also difficult to make sense of when we’ve opened the third college rejection letter of this week, or when we read – through tear-blurred vision those “Thank you for your application but…” responses in the mail. It’s even harder to be comforted when you don’t feel as if the people around you even remotely understand what it is you’re going through, especially when you’ve ‘worked so hard’. It isn’t easy, mind you, to remind yourself that you aren’t your failures and that your current situation isn’t permanent. It’s even harder at times to convince yourself that you did, in fact, work hard when not experiencing debilitating stress and anxiety.
- Acceptance: there is no use fighting yourself over what’s already done. Accept the challenge for what it is and move forward.
- Meditate and visualize a solution: Once you’ve accepted the bitter reality, it’s time to stop obsessing and start figuring out how to spin this failure into a lesson.
- Conceptualize a clear plan to avoid repetition: there’s a quote somewhere about not making the same mistake twice. After careful consideration on what caused the failure, it is now time to plot your way out and most importantly
- Never fail that way again.
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