There’s this motivational quote meme, often attributed to Banksy, going around that goes something like this, “If you’re tired, learn to rest. Not to quit.” Every time I read it, I find it bothersome. Sure, resting instead of quitting makes more sense in many circumstances but here’s why I find this sort of thinking problematic, especially for moms …
When are we supposed to rest? From the moment they’re born, our children need us in a way that is so overwhelming, it’s hard to put into words. It’s wonderful. And it is exhausting. I don’t know about you, but the last time a doctor prescribed “plenty of fluids and rest,” I about laughed myself off my seat.
Then there’s the ubiquitous “hustle” culture that, frankly, just makes me tired. I’m not resting on this one, y’all. I’m straight up quitting. If I have to hustle, it’s a hassle. Put that on your Pinterest board, friends. The things worth hustling for – your family, your health, a career you’re passionate about, etc. – I’m cheering you on when you give those your all (or whatever you have to give).
I have nothing against the hustle if it works for you. But can we stop worshipping overworking, please? It’s not normal to have to eat, sleep and breathe struggle. We are humans. We actually do need rest. Not because we’re burned out but because our bodies and brains require it. And, yes, sometimes we need to quit because we’ve taken on too much or our circumstances have changed.
We don’t need the world saying all we need is a little rest and hustle. That is a lie, people. What we need is a reality check. What we need is to acknowledge that balance is something worth striving for in life. I don’t mean that in the trite, “let’s all share our secrets for work-life balance” way. Rather, we should always consider whether we are leaning in too far. Does self-care feel like a chore? Is that what caring feels like? Do we dread working on our hobbies? That doesn’t sound like fun. Do we give up sleep and time with our family to put in extra hours at work?
I keep thinking about the example we are setting for our kids with all these side hustles and hobbies turned second jobs. Are they learning hard work pays off or are they learning that being a grown-up means spending every spare moment hustling? Are we showing them that it’s possible to have something resembling a balanced life or are we teaching them that adulthood is all about working for more? Do we believe in enough? Do we believe in balance as much as we believe in the hustle?
Sleep on it. I like that a lot better than “rest, don’t quit”. And maybe that is the real meaning behind the quote. Maybe it isn’t about powering through and forcing ourselves to complete things just because we started. Sleep on it. And if you still dread the thing when you wake up, if it still feels like a hustle, then quit.