Column: COVID-19 has changed the “grind culture”.

The days of walking the sidewalk with bronchitis and a 100-degree fever seem to be behind us.

Not long ago, we looked at a classmate with a box of tissues and cough syrup on his desk and thought “respect.” If anyone even thinks about going to class with a cough, they better be prepared to get disapproving looks from a classroom full of students.

Our post-COVID-19 era has developed a societal norm that goes against what the last 40 to 50 years have prioritized: relentless perseverance. While this turn of events has emphasized wellness and self-care, it’s possible that our generation has begun to lose its edge.

The wellness wave that swept our society after the pandemic was a long time coming. Before COVID-19, competitive natures were encouraged and were exponentially more competitive every year. This led to our generation creating sleepless zombies that acted as machines. Downtime and self-care were seen as a treat rather than a necessity.

Basically, if you’re not getting a whopping 800mg of caffeine a day, you’ve been lazy. There was always someone who worked harder, slept less, and ultimately was down a steeper path to success than you. So staying home feeling under the weather was almost a shame. Wasting several hours, even days of precious time to take care of something that could be left to modern medicine was an absurd idea.

The crème de la crème would never let a little cold stop their life.

Obviously this was not a sustainable way of life. And let me not even get me started on the poor quality of life as a result of this cultural phenomenon. However, our post-COVID-19 era, with its newfound wellness sensibility, has set our priorities straight.

But we overcorrected.

Yes, recent attention to mental and physical well-being has been a significant and even life-changing movement. But it’s gotten to a point where being under the weather is almost socially unacceptable.

If you don’t believe me, cough—or better yet, sneeze—the next time you’re out in public and see how many heads turn. Our society has begun to reward those who give up their lives for the most minor and normal illnesses.

I’m not saying at all that we had it right before. Feeling the pressure of keeping up with the grind despite illness shouldn’t be a problem, and I’m glad our post-COVID-19 society has rescinded that notion. However, coughs, runny noses and runny noses are completely normal, everyday occurrences and should not be seen as a reason to end your life.

There is a happy medium between overcoming the breaking point and lacking endurance. It’s a concept that our society has committed itself to with very extremist opinions.

My fear is that we’re starting to lose sight of endurance. Leave when the going gets tough and don’t give up because society says, “That’s okay, we can do it now.” There will be times when you have to stop, but there will also be times when you have to persevere and keep going. This societal issue is essential to our quality of life and we need to start talking about it.

@oliviahenley5

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