Welcome to Everything But The Bagel, a weekly space to make you feel a little less stressed, and a little more grounded, just with writing instead of cream cheese. By diving deeper into the reality of life as a Trojan, Everything But The Bagel will help you get through the ups and downs of your college experience. Through relatable anecdotes, interviews, and my curated edit of recommendations, this newsletter will remind you that you are at this school for a reason, further helping you make the most of your time at ‘SC.

Dear Beautiful, Imperfect, Intelligent Humans,

I have to tell you something. And I can’t promise that you’re going to like what I have to say. Why? Well, if I’m being completely transparent, because it may go against everything you have been taught. It may negate what you have seen your parents do since those bib and bottle days. But let’s remind ourselves that our reality, the world that is 2020 requires different behaviors, mindsets, and values to thrive.

So what’s this crazy, subversive thing I’m about to explain? This week, I want to challenge a debilitating and flawed narrative that society has instilled in our brains for far too long: The idea that starting in about the eleventh grade up until you become a thirty-something overnight success, you have to put your head down and, for lack of a better word, grind. Until you reach this utopian fantasy, your work should be the center of your life. You will stay in the office until 2 or 3 a.m. Lunch? Don’t have time. Treadmill? Forget about it. Under this narrative, the only way to get “there” is to sacrifice your wellbeing, relationships, and sense of self.

It is this seemingly western approach to life that we can blame for the reality of this pandemic. In my perspective, society is at the forefront of a burnout epidemic unlike anything ever seen before. The World Health Organization recognizes burnout as a diagnosable condition, wherein one suffers from a state of vital exhaustion, both physically and emotionally. The correlation between the unhealthy Western work-ethic and this epidemic is undeniable and proven in science.

Patricia Grabarek, a USC adjunct professor with a masters in applied psychology, acknowledges that “There’s a lot of really good workplace wellness research out there, but it’s not making it to the ears of the folks that actually need it.” Grabarek is an expert in company culture and stress in the office. She says that “hard work is important but too much work, you end up being less productive overtime,” which is an unfamiliar statistic to many, says Grabarek.

“You need to refill your own cup. If you try to keep pouring into your performance and there is nothing left in your cup, what are you doing?” says Grabarek. “You definitely aren’t making an impact on your work or your performance.” Grabarek emphasizes the quality of performance over quantity. “It’s the amount of effective effort,” she says.

So if we know all of this, as workplace wellness has become somewhat of a taboo topic, if we know that we are in the middle of a national crisis, why don’t we do something about it?

Grabarek recognizes the challenge for students in that “you are looking at multiple generations in the workplace.” I know that my parents, for one, live a mindset that when you graduate, you work your you-know-what-off until you “make it”––whatever that means.

So I asked Grabarek to outline tangible steps college students can take to shift their mindsets and escape this debilitating narrative. Here’s what she had to say:

1. Set a time where you are done working for the day. And do something for YOU when you finish. Read a book, meet a friend, watch that episode. Taking the time to recharge after being productive––it will help you continue to thrive in your workspace.

2. Ask the right questions. Many students start their job or internship hunt feeling intimidated or lesser-than. When you are looking for a positive work-environment asking all the right questions is crucial, Grabarek stresses. You are hiring your employer as much as they are hiring you, and asking questions about company culture and values is vital to your happiness in the office.

3. Set boundaries. Knowing your limit is not only important, but respectable. Saying “no” is an empowering and important skill that I will address in the coming weeks.

4. Level up. Even if the full-environment isn’t exactly where you want to be, “try to find a leader that is more aligned to you” Grabarek says. This way you can do everything in your power to create an effective, positive and enjoyable team culture. Just remember: you can influence your space to the same capacity regardless if you are the CEO or in the mailroom.

Wishing you all a week full of solitude, rest, and laughter––lots of laughter.

-Ella

Now here’s some of my favorite things from this week:

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” -Kobe Bryant

It has been almost a month since the devastating loss of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant. More than his success on the court, Kobe was a passionate, hardworking, and genuine soul. His attention to detail inspired thousands and his legacy has touched the lives of so many in a remarkable way. I, for one, barely know the difference between a lay-up and a rebound, yet felt incredibly impacted after news of his death. Not only did Kobe live and breathe his own words of wisdom, but wanted to inspire others to do the same, which he most definitely did. His death made the world take a step back and think about what really matters in life. I have no doubt that his legacy will live on forever.

DIGEST OF THE WEEK

I recently subscribed to Smarter Living, a weekly column by the New York Times that aims to provide readers with life tips that will help “improve your career, your home, your finances, your relationships and your health.” This week’s column, “What to do with a day off,” talks about the importance of using a day off, whether that be a normal weekend or scheduled vacation to actually take the day off. That means less email, less to do lists, and more r & r.

SOMETHING I AM WORKING ON THIS WEEK

This week I am making a conscious effort to celebrate the small wins. This can be rewarding yourself for raising your hand in your morning lecture, hitting the gym before class, going to bed an hour earlier, or even making conversation with a stranger at Target. At the end of the day, the recognition of small habits has been proven to lead to lasting behavior changes.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Every week, I welcome any questions or concerns you may have that could spark discussion/ bring awareness to our community. Just remember: No question is a dumb one.

Write to me here:

Twitter: ellakatz20

Instagram: ellaakatz