Working Hard at Being a Hard Worker
In the last year I’ve learned quite a lot about myself. It’s an odd idea to put into words that in twenty-two years I’m just now starting to understand who I am, but every now and then in life you face some kind of obstacle that makes you question the things you believed about yourself or the world and rebuild your thought process with new information. These moments can be scary, frustrating, and confusing. As is typically the feeling when the ideas you value are found to be wrong, but I tend to believe these are the moments when we grow the most exponentially. I recently had one such jarring realization; I am not a hard worker.
My Ghanaian parents were raised in a young third world country with the idea that transforming yourself into a hard worker is the only guiding light towards better opportunity. When that lighted guided them to America and they began their family, they passed on this same idea to me. I don’t think I ever fully understood what it meant to be a hard worker. Even now at the age of twenty-two, I have a much better idea, but it remains to be seen. Back then I always applied myself when it was crucial. Whether it was a time when someone depended upon me, or a moment when there was a goal I had to reach, I made sure that I could be counted on whenever I was needed. This way of working was very beneficial to me in many of my work endeavors, but my success always came as an assist to someone or something else that lied greatly beyond me. Despite the fulfillment of being praised as a useful and dependable figure for others, my personal ambitions felt as though they were falling by the wayside. I wondered for a time why this was happening until I finally had the realization. I was not a hard worker, just a person who worked hard. The problem being that the path I wanted to go in my career would depend on me always progressing and improving. If I was to work in a manner conducive to success it would require me to know myself, what I’m capable of, and how to manage my time and focus in order to get more productivity from myself without burning out. A steep difference to my more simple “rise to the occasion” approach to hard work.
It would be a marathon instead of a sprint, and for me to even have a chance at personal success in my career, my philosophy for how to apply myself would have to change. Or I would be stuck with the only partially fulfilling sense of accomplishment from before.
It’s an overwhelming feeling. Even more so when putting it into words, but I can move forward without fear, or doubt. Like I said, these moments are when we are capable of exponential growth, and I would rather go forward and implement this new philosophy than lose this opportunity to grow.