Overworking Yourself Isn’t Worth It

Overworking Yourself Isn’t Worth It

Picture by Ashlee Guardado

Saturday morning, after taking a practice AP US History exam, I wanted to watch an episode of Hunter X Hunter with my mom. However, when I nestled onto the couch and waited patiently to watch, my mom began talking to me. And she kept talking, even as the episode played.

I got irritated. I watch Hunter X Hunter to flee from stress and schoolwork—not listen to my mom. But I didn’t dare tell her that. I sucked it up and listened to her while teetering on the verge of eruption. 

Afterward, I realized what caused my irritation: three hours of uninterrupted history.

With AP tests around the corner, I am going to sleep later and adding more to-dos onto my already hefty load. After tennis practice, I look over the course and exam descriptions, take past FRQs, and familiarize myself with grading rubrics. I stay up thirty minutes later than usual, and I already notice the side effects.

At the start of a week, I can maintain a tight rein on my tongue, but as the week progresses, I become increasingly tired and that tight rein dissolves like a paper mint. By Friday, I’m rambling in my conversations and laughing at everything. I feel trapped inside my body during the daytime, unable to control my words or think quickly enough to carry on a conversation. At night, I feel energetic and tired simultaneously, yet refuse to admit defeat, only resulting in aggressive head jolts and lost time.

My freshman year revolved around AP World History; I spent lunches theorizing possible test questions and nights skimming textbook pages. I learned to equate the loss of sleep with success—because the less I slept, the more I could work. I even bragged about staying up until one or two in the morning to my classmates.

I carried the same validation-seeking habits into my sophomore year. In AP Art History, Mr. Fields showcased good examples of student work to the class. I longed for him to show mine. I would waste hours writing unnecessarily long passages, trying to outdo other students and their sparkly unit notes. I lost friends, sleep, and sanity. But worst of all: I let grades determine my worth.


“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” – Ecclesiastes 7:16-18


I learned the importance of balance from God. Now, instead of overworking myself for fives, I make an effort to go to bed by ten-thirty. Instead of only listening in conversations, I make an effort to talk. Instead of only listening to worship music, I make an effort to revisit Tyler the Creator and Kali Uchis.

I no longer chase my tail in circles because biting it will only hurt me.