Dismantling Grind Culture

In this week’s blog, Cassidy Steele, our Graduate Assistant for Engage San Francisco, considers her identity as a first generation graduate student balancing professional and personal life. Keep reading to find out how Cassidy has resisted burnout and grind culture after years of self-reflection. 

As a first-generation graduate student, I have unknowingly been heavily influenced by grind culture and it took several years to reflect on it and a few more to take action in dismantling that mindset. As of right now, I am finishing up my second year in my masters program at USF while balancing my job as a Graduate Assistant for Engage San Francisco, a program in the Leo T. McCarthy Center, as well as working an additional job. All that being said, being aware and proactive about burnout became a necessity in my day-to-day life. 

This past March, Carla Trujillo, the other Graduate Assistant for Engage San Francisco, and I presented at the Women of Color Conference on a topic titled, “What Does Support Look Like: Balancing Professional and Educational Spaces in Attempt to Resisting Burnout.” Together, we spoke about our individual experiences with burnout and how important it is to acknowledge and understand our capacities as students and professionals. We agreed that it comes down to creating boundaries, both academically and professionally, as well as having an open and supportive environment.

A quote from All About Love by bell hooks states, “… but I was convinced that I would work better in a work environment shaped by an ethic of love.” I believe this quote is an exemplary example of the importance of being part of a team that strives to ensure understanding, empathy, and ensuring the well-being of others. At the Leo T. McCarthy Center, we are constantly engaging in these conversations as a team and emphasize to one another the importance of recognizing what we are holding and how it may impact our professional, academic, and personal lives. By acknowledging our ‘ethic of love,’ we highlight our abilities to accomplish what we need, while still showing we care for one another’s well-being.

Up until a couple of months ago, whenever anyone would ask me to introduce myself, I would talk about being a graduate student, describe what I do at my job, and any other accomplishments. This was a clear indicator that I have been so blindly adopting the norms of grind culture. By describing myself through this, I am saying that who I am is second to what I do. The one piece of advice that I have to offer is to start separating yourself from your job, school, or achievements because then we can start seeing one another as who we are rather than what we do. 

Learn more about the Engage San Francisco program here.

All About Lovebell hooksempathyEngage San Franciscoethic of lovefirst generation studentgraduate assistantgrind cultureidentityprofessional lifeteamWhat Does Support Look Like?Women of Color Conference

arwilliamsonraun • April 26, 2023

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