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  • Writer's pictureMichael McClellon

Necessary Precautions Concerning An Intense Work Ethic

As a student with a curriculum considered rigorous by my high school, self-deteriorating by my brain, and soul-crushing by my heart, I can confidently say that establishing a strong, effective, and adaptive work ethic has been my saving grace in times of academic turmoil. However, it has also been the one thing restricting me from desperately needed social interactions and has perpetually decreased my focus on essential virtues such as compassion and genuine veneration towards others.

If you are an adamant believer that academics should unquestionably be placed on some marble pillar with ivy vines coiling its length with clear fountains of melted crystal in the background, I wholeheartedly beseech you to carefully consider a strong work ethic, yet let it flourish if it fancies you. If you are a student struggling to translate your innate interests into a raging locomotive of academic productivity, I encourage you to take advantage of the benefits of a well-rounded work ethic.

Our individual psychological integrity has been held by all of us to a position of profound importance and has been present ever since the first original thoughts of our childhood manifested themselves in a world solely encompassed by pure curiosity and peace. Like the ancient scrolls of a civilization guarded in their central citadel of glory. Even through brief reflection of this concept, I can confidently dictate, assuming you now have assessed the value of your psychological integrity, that this non-stop infiltration of our personal lives is unacceptable.

The current problem of work ethic has seeped through even the strongest barriers of peoples’ psychology, reaching and sometimes altering the unique perennial personality.

Let’s assume it’s summer vacation and you’re about to enter the next grade, or, even more useful of an example, your freshman year of high school. If you are one who believes that, without a doubt, you will be able to transpose your seemingly successful middle school efforts onto highschool, yet heighten them to an even more intense magnitude, you may want to reconsider your endeavors.

Now, don’t ever think I am trying to disparage your hopes and dreams, when nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing would make me happier than seeing my friends succeed as I am a firm believer in aiming for the highest possible outcome. However, developing an outright impossible vision, or quite frankly, a delusion of believing that you are predisposed to work tirelessly with no breaks the instant you arrive home can lead to a dangerous elevation in academic standards that can prove to be self-destructive if unmanageable. However infallible and apparent you think this perfect vision will be, just remember that theory and practice are the same in theory, but not in practice. This proposition is in no way generalizable to all rising freshmen or other students, yet it should neatly be placed as one of the lenses in your success-searching binoculars so you may develop contingency plans for when things go down under, and I don’t mean to Australia.

In all honesty, the reason I encourage deep consideration of this overly intense work ethic is due to the immense volatility of high school life. You never know when one fateful day may cause you to justifiably divert your attention to matters outside of academics, which would prompt an obvious discontinuation of your work ethic. This also leads to my next point about self-deterioration. This vice works differently than the others, and instead of enhancing one bad quality of your personality, it slowly but surely worsens your ability to practice each of the other virtues, such as compassion, kindness, and ability to have nice and healthy conversations without being distracted by worry. This can result in social discourse and isolation and can worsen over time.

Assuming you have a strong work ethic, you will be inclined to then increase its intensity in order to counteract these setbacks and prevent the compromise of your ever so crucial academics, the cornerstone of your success. This will only lead to external issues becoming worse and result in a positive feedback loop that involves you pushing yourself past what no human should psychologically endure. The fact that you would place an even heavier focus on academics in response to social issues further trivializes the problems of those around you, which can make others feel like they no longer belong in your life. If you let the vine grow for too long, it will become too thick to cut.

Personally, I can testify on behalf of this self-deprecating process. As I was beginning high school, I quickly realized that fulfilling the academic dreams previously concocted in middle school would require a much stronger devotion towards working. As the months, and years went by, I kept raising my standards of performance without being prepared for setbacks. This was a result of college preparation and surrounding myself with equally, and mainly better performing students. However, when personal issues, stress, and bad luck got in the way of me pursuing my destiny, the consequences were devastating. I felt like my entire future was compromised and I would never live up to the potential I had created as result of observing those more talented than me. This led me to believe that I would graduate high school short of achieving academic success, and that "everyone else" would have it all figured out.

Intensifying your academic standards and trying to develop an invincible work ethic should not be at the expense of vital elements of your psychological integrity. If this is the case, you will be left devoid of your true self and forced to embody false parodies in order to adapt to this unforgiving environment that you've created. Without a solid foundation, no real progress can be made.

I therefore encourage you to adopt a work ethic that strives for greatness in all aspects of your academic journey yet also allows for much needed social interactions and times of relaxation and reflection, which can also be vital to success. Maybe then you will discover the light years of stardust you have produced behind you instead of solely focusing on the empty space left ahead of you.

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