America’s Toxic Addiction to Workaholism

By Lianna Avanessian

Edited by Kathleen Khorn


The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of what class one is born into, can achieve success with hard work. The idea arose in the 1930s after James Truslow Adams wrote the book Epic of America. Truslow described the ideology as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement." Though the phrase “American Dream” has been widely used since the '30s, it was always driven in The United States because of capitalism. The belief still goes on to this day; many immigrants are encouraged with the notion that with the American Dream, one will get a better life. The American Dream is presented as a positive view of hard work and pay off, but it also holds onto a toxic notion.


In American society, hard work is associated with success. It is driven in America’s economical system to brag about how much work we commit to; which is where hustle culture ties in. Hustle culture means dedicating most of the day to working on achieving big things. Hustle culture has a big overlap on workaholism; it glamorizes workaholism and obsessive productivity. In the U.S. it is very common to brag about working absurd amounts of hours on a project or at one's job. Americans glamorize workaholism, because if work equals success, then someone who dedicates their whole life to working hard must be very successful. It feels extremely stressful to have this concept forced upon the American public as it promotes the idea that if extreme amounts of time and effort are not put in, there is simply no chance of success.



Despite working so hard, Americans are not super productive and do not, in fact, take many breaks throughout the day. During the workday, it is natural for Americans to not take breaks; it is normal to eat lunch at the desk and continue working. And even with all the non-stop hustling, there is hardly any pay for vacations. A CNBC article stated, “the U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers any paid vacation time. And as a result, a quarter of the country’s private-sector workers don’t receive any time off at all, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).”


When it comes to parental leaves, the U.S. insures your job, but does not guarantee the adequate income a new parent needs. According to a report from the Huffington Post, “New parents in the U.S. are guaranteed their jobs for 12 weeks after the arrival of a new baby, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, but they do not have to be paid during that time and exemptions apply for small companies” This can become a struggle for many families, as it can revolve around one paycheck. The International Labor Organization created a graph that stated that the U.S. is the only major country that does not enforce paid parental leave.



Going back to the idea, do Americans actually like to work? Although it is not many’s first choice, especially with the conflicts over parental leaves, as it can be viewed as choosing work over children. But of course, it’s not by choice, it is a necessity. People still want to work hard since it allows you to show your abilities/worth. This time is spent dedicating and believing positions are what one needs for a comfortable life. But with all the dedication towards work, it would be depressing if you ended up nowhere, right? The workaholic culture has been driven in Americans since the beginning of the economy; It leads to no productivity, a draining job, and a problematic ideology that without non-stop hustle, one will not be successful.



Sources Cited:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/maternity-leave-paid-parental-leave-_n_2617284https://www.huffpost.com/entry/maternity-leave-paid-parental-leave-_n_2617284

This chart shows how far behind America is in paid time off compared to the rest of the world

https://blog.runrun.it/en/hustle-culture/#:~:text=In%20a%20nutshell%2C%20hustle%20culture,day%20as%20possible%20working%20%E2%80%94%20hustling.&text=When%20you%20talk%20of%20hustle,sleep%2C%20and%20other%20important%20events.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/american-dream.asp#:~:text=Understanding%20the%20American%20Dream,according%20to%20ability%20or%20achievement.%22

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