As a Type A perfectionist law student, I’m never convinced that my best is good enough. I’m of the mindset that working and studying late, sacrificing sleep and spending the weekend at uni are all worth it for the grand scheme of things: my future as a lawyer.
I often wear my hard work, sleep deprivation and unsustainable workload like a badge of honour. “I don’t know how you do it!” – famous last words that I hear too often. But when did working so hard become so glamorous? It is time to challenge this unrealistic, unhealthy image that we as law students are all guilty of glamorising.
Despite the fact that I love the law, I love my studies, I love my job and I love my extra-curricular activities (which may explain why I can never say no), there are times that I ask myself, is it all worth it?
I recently read a great article that highlighted some of the reasons why we should all work a little less. Some of the reasons raised included how taking on a large amount of work diminishes the quality of the work we produce, impairs judgement, impacts our mood and relationships, and actually reduces productivity. As convincing as those reasons are, I wish taking this advice of working and studying less was as easy as it sounds. What can be so hard about not working so hard?
For me, the need to prove myself and an inability to say no or delegate have been key factors in my struggle to take on less work and find more “me time”. But whether I like it or not, the quality of my life is rapidly diminishing because of my current workload. I have reached the point where I am completely burnt out and am now forced to work less because I’m physically unable to maintain my previous work rate.
I am slowly making changes to my approach to work and study, but I know that it doesn’t happen overnight. Finding a balance between, work, study, and the rest of your life may mean choosing sleep over an all-nighter, saying no to an extra shift at work, or having a night away from the books to relax at home or catch up with friends.
There will always be reasons to work harder and there will always be people out there making hard work and success seem so easy, but we all need to start having a hard look at the quality of our lives. Short-term pain doesn’t always equal long-term gain. There will always be more work that needs to be done, but it will be impossible to shine bright if you’re completely burnt out.
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