By Jacob Cerin
There are certain abilities that, after centuries of us using them every day and seeing as unspectacular, we’ve suddenly turned our view on as being extra-human, impossible to access, and even godlike. Living well and working hard have been spun into ultra-exclusive trends we’re confused into thinking are not within our reach, bolstered by ubiquitous content that makes us feel isolated from the most brilliant sides to ourselves.
Those abilities which were once intuitive to us all are now associated exclusively with investors, athletes, and retired Navy SEALS, who thrive off feeding back the most mundane advice yet are regarded as geniuses. A long time ago, a person in the one percent and a person picking weeds in a market garden had a shared approach to life, their principles almost identical to each other.
We don’t really work anymore.
Instead, we “grind”. The distinction is where these words come from. Working is the act of obeying the everyday nagging of our parents and elders that provides no gratification. The result is that we meet the bare minimum to be considered a decent human being – we fulfil our duty. Knowing it’s a duty tells us that working is nothing worth boasting about. Nobody likes to admit they don’t work, whether that be in the form of not helping out at home with chores, or not having a career while their peers do.
Grinding differs from working. It isn’t a duty to others, but a noble mission. Busy working days have been adapted into a habit of the exceptional, as have waking up early and anything remotely related to self-control. We’ve turned the life of balance and focus into an option.
Our generation has swapped work for the grind.
We declared to ourselves that certain human abilities, upheld by people for many centuries, were no longer a mere baseline for a good life. Any occasions we spend our time productively these days is a win that we can share with others online. We take photos of the book we’re reading, our work desk, or our squat rack – with that mandatory timestamp on it if the time is notably early.
The grind, unlike work, can be announced.
The announcement is applauded by people. We don’t announce the fact that we’ve worked to our friends online. We maintain a distinct mental incentive between working and grinding and celebrate strong character to secure that dopamine.
Many of us have dear ones who never knew hard yakka to be incentivised in this way. For myself, those dear ones are my grandparents: my Baba and Dida. They did their “grind” in a market garden, working long days for several decades, while raising children. The pay-scale was massively out of proportion to the effort they invested every day, and the menial tasks they’d do were not in the hope of securing any upper management or anything in the market garden.
Their career ladder was seeing their kids through school with adequately full stomachs. It was the bare minimum to my grandparents. They never thought twice about their early starts or their work ethic being special. It was only upon seeing how our generation operated that they began to be so familiarly scornful to us, with their regular retellings of daily struggles.
The people directly around us, not getting those six-figure paydays and never hoping for it, but living with the same rigour as that billionaire’s daily routine we read on Instagram, are the most essential role models in our lives: the ones who refer to themselves as workers and remind us that CEO-tier willpower effortlessly exists in a man who pulls weeds.
Jacob thinks that indoor skydiving is pretentious.