Upon first glance, it is not tough to decipher that Hassan is an individual who is stressed out. Clad in a zip-up hoodie with deep sunken eyes, he explains the difficulties he faces while attempting to balance being a full-time student and a full-time employee.
For a 21 year old, Hassan’s work schedule rivals that of mid-30 something’s working in a corporate environment. His work day starts at 7:30am and ends around 12am, sometimes later. He explains his day in detail by describing how he attends his college classes in the morning, arrives at work by 1pm and then works in office until 10pm. His day doesn’t end there though; when he reaches home he either has additional work to do from his job or his school assignments. This results in him finally getting to sleep by either 2 or 3am.
“I’m severely sleep deprived,” he explains. The pressure to perform well at both school and in work weighs heavily on him, but he oftentimes ends up prioritising work above his degree. This is because he’s working in order to pay his tuition. Given that he is bound to his job by a monetary necessity, he finds that he subconsciously places more value onto it in contrast to his college.
“School deadlines and work deadlines each have their own pressure,” explains the student. He further explains that he sometimes gets his sister or friend to do school assignments for him so that he can continue to work once he get’s home. This pressure is exacerbated by the fact that he works at a job that requires him to work long hours and work overtime.
Aside from being severely sleep deprived, Hassan explains that the work-college balance has caused him to start smoking more in order to alleviate pressure. He further says that he doesn’t have much of a social life, given that his work-college obligations don’t allow him to. “I don’t have a lot of friend’s in college so I end up using my free time to catch up on work” he says.
Sometimes this pressure can become too much. “Everyday I am being pushed to my absolute limit,” he explains “some days it get’s too much and I feel like breaking. I have to try my best to remain calm.” It’s not hard to imagine that this intensive workload would be too much for someone as young as Hassan. In addition to this, he doesn’t have a close-knit circle of friends or family who support him emotionally during this turbulent time. “I don’t really talk about my struggles with anyone because I don’t have a lot of emotional support for this decision.” says Hussain.
Luckily for Hassan, he doesn’t feel too daunted being in a professional environment. This is perhaps because he works with a start-up at a co-working space. This means he works in an environment that is more laid-back, casual and filled with young professionals in their 20’s. For this reason, he enjoys his workspace very much. “I don’t have the pressure to dress a certain way and everyone around me is young, which helps a little bit,” he says.
Moreover, despite all the difficulties he faces, he genuinely enjoys his job. That is the main factor that keeps him going. “I have goals and I want to achieve them,” explains the student, “I love what I do, even if it’s difficult and draining at times.” This motivation is driven by the belief that this job can lead him somewhere. In fact, he has even considered giving up his degree entirely. This is partly because of feeling overworked due to his multiple obligations, and partly because he feels that he isn’t being intellectually stimulated enough at school. “I don’t know anyone else who is working and studying at the same time,” he explains “At this point, a degree just feels like a piece of paper to me. I’ve seriously considered giving up college for my job because I feel like I’m learning more here than I am during class.”
For most people, their first job comes post graduation. Professional life, with it’s own struggles and learning curve, is distinctly different from college life and upon starting work it is natural to feel as though professional environment you’re in is far superior to the college one. Perhaps the conflating of these two worlds is what’s making Hassan feel as though he wants to leave college. “I haven’t decided as yet but I am still considering it,” he explained.
Hassan’s story can be viewed as one about the making of a classic workaholic. “Despite everything, I love what I do and this is the type of life I want to live,” he explains about the high-pressure environment and workload. “I like the challenge and I feel like it’s refining my skills everyday.”
*Names have been changed to maintain privacy
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