Discover more from Aamer's Letters
A Captivating Flame That Burned Fingers & The Grind To Make It Big
Finding myself neck-deep in hustle culture and obsessing over something that I don’t even want.
This one’s about drive, it’s about power.
A Story For You
The blaring digital clock read 04:00 AM in bright red and the snooze button on its side, read ‘Press Me’ in subtext.
It was another day, Monday maybe?
I wasn’t sure, I’d lost count. It didn’t matter what day today was anyway. All that mattered was how many days were left. It was written with a dry-erase marker on a board right across my bed. The first thing I saw every single morning - a countdown.
I’d pull out some books, pop open my laptop lid, and find the last lecture I was listening to before I went to bed. If I hadn’t been weak enough to fall asleep, I could have actually finished all of it.
More scribbled equations.
Showering and eating felt like chores; menial tasks that took up my time when really, I should’ve been studying instead. Every second I wasn’t at my desk meant that I was a failure. I’d bring my textbooks to the dining table, I’d stick post-its with formulae all over them on the bathroom mirror.
It was about the grind. The hustle. The “I-need-to-make-it”. I couldn’t find time for answering my phone or taking care of myself. All of that could come later - after the last mile had been run and I was on the opposite side of the finish line.
And well, I finished. I didn’t do as incredible as I would’ve hoped but I’m self-aware enough to realize that my scores were ‘good’ from an outsider’s perspective. It was finally over.
So where was it then? Where was the joy that I’d been waiting for?
For days, weeks, even months - I felt hollow. I couldn’t find anything to fill the void that it had left in its wake. What do I do now? With all of this time? I’d conditioned myself to become a machine, unfeeling and distant.
Every second I spent not studying was a second of failure, weakness, and shame. But now, with nothing to study, all I could do was turn inwards and wonder how much better I could’ve done. I was so obsessed with the result that I’d never given anything else enough thought.
I'd spent hours over what I thought mattered but now that the race was over, I didn't really feel like I'd won anything at all. I saw people around me who had taken up new hobbies, honed their craft, or simply existed in the moment and found joy in it.
I missed out on so many beautiful opportunities like spending time with people who mattered to me, being able to enjoy a meal without rushing through it, or even the basic happiness of deriving your own sense of self-worth that is independent of your outside achievements.
I was so captivated by the flames, I didn’t realize how burnt out I was until my fingers were singed.
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A Story From Someone Else
The TikTok trend of ‘stay-at-home’ girlfriends is everywhere, and in light of the backlash, this incredible piece by Clare Black says a lot about our current view of hustle culture. You can find the full work here.
You may have spotted a trend of the ‘stay-at-home’ girlfriend coming through TikTok. These girls take you through a day in their life at home whilst their partners are out at work. Some people would call this a step back for feminism — but I sense this is coming more from an anti-hustle movement than an anti-feminism movement.
Societies and governments need to look at how we can change the way we work to allow people to fulfill all of their needs and responsibilities as well as have time for leisure.
I like the sense of fulfillment I can get from work, and I would never want to quit work entirely but I certainly would like to be able to work less in order to get all the chores, sleeping, working out, and socializing done without being permanently stressed and feeling like I'm out of time.
'Stay-at-home' girlfriends are not going to ruin feminism and the strides we've made toward equality. They are just another example of a general movement.
We've had enough of working ourselves into the ground and would much rather work less and have greater balance.
A Story From You
Burnout is tough. Let me say that again for the people at the back- burnout is really tough.
What has your experience with burnout been like?
How did you recover?
If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear about it! Reply to this email, talk to me, or just leave a comment on Substack. Reading comments and talking to you over the weekend has easily become one of my favorite parts of the week.
If you’d like to remain anonymous, I absolutely respect your decision. This is a safe space, where your stories matter.
Till next time,