After dropping out of college, I noticed something odd. Whether I was at one of my jobs or building my own project, I loved working. I started to wonder what was up. I found myself thinking, why am I enjoying work?
When we were kids, many of us were told something like this:
“Listen, I know your schoolwork isn’t very fun. But you have to drudge through it so you’re prepared for a good job someday, which will be much the same as schoolwork. In the real world, you gotta get through the grind.”
In school, we’re taught that hard work is tedious and unpleasant. We’re taught that the grind is something we must get through to get a reward. But what if the grind is the reward? We’re told we must grind through work so we’re able to go do what makes us come alive. What if it’s the grind that makes us come alive?
This is a sentence from Atlas Shrugged that I love:
“That winter, she stripped her life down to a bright simplicity of a geometrical drawing: a few straight lines — to and from engineering college in the city by day, to and from her job at Rockdale Station each night — and the closed circle of her room, a room littered with diagrams of motors, blueprints of steel structures, and railroad timetables.”
Dagny’s grind is beautiful. Her work is a noble and natural process. While to Ayn Rand productive work is a virtuous endeavor, today the norm is for us to avoid or bemoan it. We dread Monday and count the days until the weekend. “TGIF!” we proclaim on Facebook, a status we know will garner numerous likes and sympathy. Much like how we used to cheer when class was canceled, now we celebrate when we get the day off work.
Our lives don’t resemble a geometrical drawing so much as an aimless scribble. Perhaps the first step to changing our drawing is realizing we are artists. We can choose to stop seeing work as an ugly thing and look for what else it could be to us.
What if we stopped filling our lives with things to distract us from our idea of the awful grind, and just focused on what it could truly be? It’s hard to see something for what it is if you’re not getting a good look at it. If we take the time to see past judgments and assumptions, we can find the beauty in the grind.