On the topic of 'quiet quitting'

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When I first heard the term “quiet quitting,” I assumed that people were quitting simply by not showing up to work. That’s the quietest way to quit, right? In actuality, quiet quitting doesn’t actually involve quitting your job at all; it ranges anywhere from solely doing what you’re expected to do at work (and nothing extra) to reevaluating your relationship with your job and focusing more on work-life balance.

Though we haven’t quite escaped the grasp of COVID yet, people are reflecting on the past two years to see how they should move forward with their careers. To me, the fact that the term “quiet quitting” describes simply doing your job and nothing else is quite absurd. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand going above and beyond for your job if it’s something you enjoy, but employees shouldn’t be expected to do that on a regular basis. Quitting has negative connotations, and doing the work you’re assigned and nothing more is completely valid.

It’s easy to feel in the campus environment that “quiet quitting” is a foreign concept to many students. For the past two years, I was in a similar position. I was driving myself to do as many classes and activities as possible, to the point of almost burning myself out completely. After all, isn’t that the Carnegie Mellon Experience™?

In the end, the atmosphere at Carnegie Mellon will stick with students for years to come. While many workplaces post-college aren’t competitive, I can’t help but feel based on my time here so far that no matter where I end up, I will constantly have to be learning more and working to find success. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing nothing but work, even if I find it fulfilling. I want to take the time to relax and do things I enjoy (a.k.a. actually living my life) without having to worry that I’m constantly falling behind, but at times, I feel like I’ve never achieved that.

There is absolutely no reason why students should feel like constantly being on the grind is what you have to do to succeed at this school. Once I realized that spending every living moment on the grind of classes and activities is not sustainable, doing something analogous to quiet quitting where I considered just doing what I actually needed to do to graduate was very helpful.

However, I don’t believe quiet quitting is a good term for what people should do. The term simply doesn’t describe it. What we should be doing is reevaluating our work-life balance and focusing on what we truly enjoy and trying to avoid doing work we simply don’t enjoy.

If I just stuck by quiet quitting standards, then I would be doing the minimal coursework that I needed to do to graduate and that was it. But to me, that’s not fulfilling; I’m lucky and found other activities — like working on a newspaper — that I enjoy alongside my studies.

While it’s important to balance time between work and studies, it’s important to not forego the things you’re passionate about as well. When I eventually enter the workforce in some capacity, my opinion may change, but that’s not where I am right now. It’s important to remember we’re still students. Students shouldn’t be expected to dedicate all their time to studies, even though they’re technically our “jobs.”

While quiet quitting suggests we should do only what we need to complete our degree, fulfillment for some means going above and beyond, and that’s perfectly fine. If people enjoy the constant grind cycle that hangs over the heads of Carnegie Mellon students, good for them; I know it’s not for me, and that’s perfectly fine. Finding what is best for you is important, and finding what that was for me is one of the most important things I learned recently.

Regardless of what stage of life you’re at, enjoyment and fun are important and the moment we forgo that, then what is the point of what we’re doing? While constantly being on the grind is a means to an end, there are other ways to go about our lives. If we don’t learn to prioritize enjoying what we’re doing now, then when will we ever learn to?