Over the years, in the five countries I’ve lived in, there have always been parents who pushed their children to work harder, often comparing them to neighbors’ children who study longer hours and get better grades. This is a phenomenon prominent in Asian families, who discipline their children to work hard, but not play hard. This brings about a major issue.
Childhood should be viewed as a precious phase of life. Children are meant to play with their friends, not with their calculators. This applies to adults too. Yes, stress and overworking are inevitably more common in adults than young people, but that doesn’t grant adults permission to prioritize work over family. Some of my friends see their working parent(s) only once a day, and some less frequently.
There is an optimal level of hard work that yields the greatest success, whether it be at school or the workplace. Overworking your body is seldom a good idea, as it could lead to a catastrophic range of physical and psychological conditions, none of which remotely contribute to the betterment of people, often even going as far as to reduce your focus, hence minimizing success.
As the world becomes increasingly materialistic, and as more people dream bigger, competition is inevitable, causing many students and adults to collapse under the pressures of everyday life. It doesn’t have to be this way. Recognize your priorities, and make time for them now. That doesn’t mean that you should cut down on work drastically. You can’t go from working 90 hours a week to working 40 hours a week without risking losing your job. The same goes for students; if you don’t spend enough time working, you lower your chances of success (unless you’re a genius). However, it isn’t healthy for young people to be working too long or too hard.
To make my point, I asked a friend of mine at school, who is known for his exceptional academic performance, if he gets enough sleep on school days.
He told me: “I go to sleep at 1 AM and wake up at 6.30. People tell me I’m supposed to sleep for like 8 hours, but I can’t study this much and have sufficient sleep. I get good grades even with this sleep schedule, but it’s difficult to concentrate in school sometimes. I know I could think more clearly if I got more sleep. Additionally, while my friends hang out over the weekend, I can’t afford to do anything but sleep. This also reduces the time I spend with my parents, which will ultimately decrease even more when I go to college.”
He is not the only person who experiences the detrimental effects of working too much. Many students spend entire weekends in their room, only coming out for meals, and barely see their parents on weekdays. Students come home late from the multiple extra-curricular activities they participate in, and working parents devote too much time to work; both parties unintentionally distance themselves from each other and wonder why they spend so little time together. Blame your overloaded schedules. Come out of your room, your office, your hiding shell, and spend some time with your family. Overworking does not set you up for success in the long term.
Photo: Courtesy of BSB, Shunyi
A complete version of this article appeared on p53-56 of the beijingkids September 2018 Teen Takeover issue.