MacDonald: Always being on “the grind” is a toxic mindset

Alexandra MacDonald

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. 

There’s a dangerous trend going around, and not everyone is aware of it. It’s all over social media, decorating Instagram accounts and “waking up at 4 a.m.” YouTube videos. We don’t need to push ourselves to the limit every day, but that seems to be what many people believe — and social media isn’t helping. 


According to Urban Dictionary, “the grind,” or “rise and grind” in their words, means “an attitude when first waking, to hit everything in your life … to always keep pushing towards success and continual progress, through both happiness and hardship, with strength of character and unyielding resolve.”

With young adults in the workforce, there’s an idea that you need to work as hard as you can for as long as you can. College students have their lives completely filled almost every day with their academics — even more if they work and participate in extracurricular activities. And, to be honest, most of us can agree that students may not be the best at making healthy decisions. 

That being said, there isn’t anything wrong with having “the grind” mindset. Being young is about learning what you like and dislike and how to f*ck up, turn around and make it better. 

This culture comes in many forms, whether it’s sustaining alertness through iced coffee and missing several nights of sleep or an unceasing routine of productivity. It hides under the face of “having a passion for what you do,” but that isn’t the entire truth.  

Academics and a job are really key parts of our lives, and they do come with a lot of stress, but they aren’t everything.

The big thing is that people can see this mindset as a way to feel better about themselves. They work ridiculously hard and come home to sleep for a few hours, only to wake up and start the cycle again. 

This would typically be called being a workaholic. It tears families apart, pushes mental exhaustion and doesn’t perpetuate a good work-life balance. You shouldn’t feel the need to push yourself into overdrive just to get through the school year.

Not everything is a competition, even with yourself. 

Setting overtly high goals and working at a frantic pace to reach them isn’t sustainable. At a university, this can look like giving yourself no real time to get a good night’s rest and forcing yourself to plow through schoolwork, going to the gym and depending on endless cups of coffee from Sweet Sinsations. 

Grind culture can work for some people — those who put themselves first rather than the work are the ones more likely to succeed.

If you’re going to partake in the drive of “the grind,” be sure to remember one thing: academics and a job are really key parts of our lives, and they do come with a lot of stress, but they aren’t everything. Believing they are is where toxic grind culture begins. 


Getting a good night’s rest, checking in with yourself and making sure you’re getting actual nutrition instead of forgetting meals is the key to getting yourself where you want to be.

Alexandra MacDonald can be reached at or on Twitter @alexandramacc.