The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Editorial: Your Productivity Does Not Define You

Have you noticed your mood swaying with your level of productivity?

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

We each have 24 hours in a day to do what we want — catch up on schoolwork, practice a musical instrument, bake a tasty treat — but often by bedtime, all we’ve done is binge-watch a TV show and solve a single math problem. This kind of “unproductivity” can drag us into a cycle of self-loathing and guilt, as we’re plagued by thoughts of how much more we could or should have done.

While guilt in moderation can sometimes motivate improvement, we should refrain from hinging our self-worth on productivity alone, as it varies from day-to-day. Letting such an unstable factor define how we feel about ourselves is not only unreasonable but also counterproductive. For example, if poor mental health is already impairing our ability to complete tasks, beating ourselves up for not living up to unrealistic standards only digs us a deeper hole.

Self-worth looks different for everyone, but we need to recognize when we’re trying to pull it from the wrong place. While basing it on productivity might come naturally because of the culture you’ve grown up in, part of possessing a true sense of self is accepting that you will have off days, weeks, and months and that they don’t make you any less of a person. The problem factor could be anything, not just productivity — perhaps your self-esteem rises and falls with how certain people behave toward you, how attractive you feel at the moment, or how “successful” you perceive yourself to be. Regardless, self-worth should not depend on factors that sway with the seasons; otherwise, when the leaves change, we’ll be lost because we never established a true sense of self. 

If you’ve been woefully unproductive recently, that isn’t the worst thing in the world — maybe this is a chance for you to seek out some of the stabler aspects of yourself that make you who you are, such as the values you live by, your capacity for individual growth, or your positive impact on your community. It’s about time we all benefited from some honest self-reflection.

Graphic by Opinion Editor Aria Lakhmani

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