It’s an interesting time of year right now. The college internship hunt is in full swing, not-yet-employed college seniors are discovering that findingajobisafulltimejob, and those of us 1-5 years out of college are still under the quasi-delusion whatever we want to do in life will magically come to fruition within the next half-decade or so. Our ambition binge culture has been around for a decent amount of time now, and, given that we all ascribe to the 21st century human condition of trying to be somebody, this super-intense career self-betterment trend has spun this strange term that is at once intolerable, yet also somewhat hilarious.
I am of course, referring to the loose concept that has come to been known as the #grind.
The #grind is everywhere, and the #grind is no longer going to be preceded by a hashtag for the rest of this article, because you probably get the point by now. But the grind, by definition, is something that isn’t supposed to ascribe to “the point.” This is because the grind is weirdly individual--your grind is not my grind, and this makes my grind worth telling other people about on social media.
Except that it doesn’t. Well, not totally.
I’m at an age where the thing to do, apparently, is talk about how much you work at your job. Part of this is completely natural--because this is now the way we're primarily spending our time, it makes perfect sense that a suddenly huge part of our lives something we'd want to talk to people about. To unload, to share commonalities, and to "catch up." To be sitting at a diner at 1am thinking that you're so cool cause you're a diner at 1 am, and man they should film a movie about your life because this is so goddamn interesting.
But what isn't natural, is the way we’re talking about our jobs. Quantifying ability and self-worth simply by how late one stayed at the office, or how subjectively busy someone is. Again, definitely something to talk about with your good friends and girlfriend, but it gets problematic when your social media shit is solely built around things like “man, so THIS is what it feels like to be home at 7 on a Wednesday,” or “everyone has off today, but (upload a picture of a sad desk lunch)...#Idon'tHateitThough)” It’s this weird version of niche humblebragging, which is simultaneously insufferable and uproarious. But this was never the point.
I have this theory. About five years ago, a girl got jealous of her high school friends, all of whom went to more prestigious colleges than her. She didn’t exactly know why she was jealous of them, because she wanted to go to college to have fun--to tailgate, wear neon bandanas, and not have to worry about things like what private school she didn’t go to. But she failed to realize that people apparently don’t do that anymore, and her friends leveraged the disparity into acting all snottily superior--which naturally made this girl upset, jealous, and bitter. Suddenly faced with a major threat to her dignity, she resolved to out-work everyone (via academics, clubs, internships, the whole nine yards), and did so rather handily. BUT, because her newfound rivals were all off at Wisconsin, Georgetown, and Cornell, this girl needed a passive-aggressive way to showcase her superiority to her former-yet current-yet sometimes former bestie crew. Meaning, she turned to Facebook.
At first, her announcing her various accomplishments was a hit. People were supportive, there were way too many exclamation points to go around, and former main squeeze even decided to make it known he was still interested via some tryhard snark in the comment section. But then, people in her social web--particularly her friends she was #takingshots at--realized that (a. fuck, she’s doing better than me, (b. because she's doing this publicly, everyone will know she's doing better than me, and (c. wait, I’m actually a lot fucking better than her. A realization that opened pandora’s box in the worst way possible, setting off this chain reaction that eventually reached all social networks of people between the ages of 18-26.
The #grind has evolved tremendously in recent years. And as social media etiquette continues to develop more complexities and community-concentrated protocols, it will likely continue to do so. One industry is not talked about the same as another one online, and so forth. But throughout all of this change, there is often a common thread--talking about your busy work schedule, your crazy hours, and your rigorous demands seems just that. This may be because quality of work is less easy to get across in 140 characters or whatever, but this grind-speak, by nature of talking about the grind rather than what the components of this grind actually are, seems to be A LOT like that kid who just talks about how drunk he got last night. You assume it’s true because he says it loudly and with confidence, but the more and more he talks about how drunk he got last night, you begin to wonder. And then you become amused. And then, you try not to make eye-contact with anything for fear of bursting out laughing.
The lesson then, as always--if you can truly hold your liquor, you won’t really feel the need to tell everyone how great you are at pounding shots. And, that there is nothing more important in life than being a giant hypocrite.