The Plus-Side Of Being A Workaholic
By definition, a workaholic is someone who finds it difficult to not work, and if we’re going by what the Oxford Dictionary says, then yes, I qualify as one. I compulsively work long hours. But that has got very little to do with the pressure that my job puts on me, and more to do with the pressure I keep myself under.
However, contrary to popular belief, not all workaholics are devoid of a social circle or life. I have friends that call me out for drinks every other day; parents that incessantly check on me - whether or not I am getting enough sleep, if I’m eating on time, and well; and colleagues who think it is unhealthy to work as much as I do. I, too, can seize a moment when the time comes, and am not an introvert who looks at work as an escape. In other words, it’s not out of loneliness that even on my nights out, I check my email every half an hour, or skip dates for an online conference.
TBH, there have been days when I have let my workaholic side get the best of me. On bitter days, it has been the reason why I broke a few hearts. But on the better days, it has been my saving grace. To reiterate, my reasons don’t arise out of solitude, or stress, or lack of having anything else to do.
“I work simply because it gives me happiness. I work for the rush that comes with marching along deadlines, and meeting them seamlessly. I work for the appreciation that I know will follow after having something done. I work for the satisfaction that hits me as I hit the bed after a long, productive day. I work for all that, and more.”
There are enough studies that talk about the ill effects of being a workaholic, but not enough that talk about it being okay. There is even a Japanese term called ‘Karoshi’ that means death by working too much. But, stress in general can be a tricky term to understand. On one hand, there is bad or negative stress, the kind the Japanese here are talking about, which is backed up by surveys that show almost 40% of the Japanese population sleeps less than six hours a day, get this, because of stress. On the other hand, though, there is good or positive stress, the kind that actually drives one to do more, and increases productivity. The key takeaway is, the same stressor can be perceived as either good or bad, depending on how it plays on you.
Working, for some, is a way to reinstate confidence in themselves - the sense that they are the drivers of their own life. As Oprah once said, “What I know is, that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfils you, the rest will come.” That ‘rest’ here is a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment that one works towards all their life.
Having to work too much versus wanting to work too much are two distinct things. While the former fosters a culture of stress and unhappiness, the latter functions as self-help that people like me take on - not to avoid anxiety, but simply to feel satisfied, and in control. Yes, it can take an emotional toll on you, but so do things like love, lust and power. All of which we do not detest, but rather yearn to understand. Studies on workaholism have in fact shown that being professionally occupied can help battle depression more effectively than any other means. This is because the mind stays occupied with something that is not only productive, but invokes a sense of gratification, too.
At the end of the day, it is all about how you let things affect you. Some people work half as much, and find themselves crumbling under pressure, whereas others work double, and still don’t feel they’ve done enough. Nobody can make you do more than you desire... just like nobody can make you do less than you wish to.
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