When did “be a human doing” become the goal?

It’s all over social media, productivity blogs, and bucket lists. Things to do. Goals to reach. Accomplishments to hang on your wall.

When did your value as a person become tied to how productive you are? How many tasks you can clear? How many experiences you have checked off?

I read article after article about high achievers. About how instead of going out and just giving yourself a break every once and awhile at a bar, you go learn a new skill instead. You keep a tiny group of close friends who are ‘worthy’ of your time, never allowing ourself to go and cut loose because then you’re wasting your potential. You don’t even consume media so all your energy goes to creating, instead.

It’s bloody exhausting.

One of the first things I ever came across in parental abuse recovery literature was this concept that self-centred parents want accomplished kids. They want human doings, not human beings. Existence isn’t enough for them.

And I see the same thing repeated over and over again in productivity circles. How if you want to become a high achiever, get somewhere, you have to stack up the accomplishments. You have to cut out leisure, because that one hour of leisure a day is an hour you could be using for a second job, or building up your first job.

As if time being social, without responsibilities, just enjoying life is wasted instead of necessary.

You know who the most successful of my classmates are? The ones who spent their weekends drinking, making friends, building bonds. Sure, they’re not mega successful, but they have an experience card stacked up nicely in their favour. Good jobs, good friends, and good vacations.

What even counts as hyper-successful, anyway? A fleshed out LinkedIn? A high salary? A few dozen skills? A ten word job title?

None of that sounds fulfilling. It sounds like workaholism wrapped up in a gift box labeled acceptance and security. Hyper-success gets you neither if you never take the time to kick back and enjoy something. If you don’t measure your value by how big your bucket list is, constantly comparing it to the people who aren’t exceptionally skilled.

Does this mean you can’t enjoy going out and learning a new skill? Heck no. But it does mean you shouldn’t look down on those who spend some of their precious time giving to themselves. Who want to kick back in front of the tv or at a bar and say “I’ve done enough, and even though I could be doing more, I’m going to give myself a break.”

High achievers aren’t better than anyone else. Stop treating them as such.