I can’t even remember the number of times I have been admonished, “Don’t work too hard.” I am pretty sure that, ironically, it is generally by the same people who think that people of color don’t work hard enough. Which way did you want that?

Too hard relative to what?

What the hell does that even mean? What a vague statement.

I come from people who worked hard (and survived the western edge of the Texas Hill Country without air conditioning). I was raised to work hard. My whole family works hard. We take pride in our work. We leave it all on the dance floor, as they say. Even if we don’t accomplish what we set out to do that day, we go to bed knowing we did what we could. We celebrate each other’s hard work and the success that hard work brings to us. We encourage each other to work hard.

So when I am told not to work too hard, it doesn’t just fall on deaf ears, it’s an insult. It’s an affront to who I am and what I am part of. I get pissed.

It’s similar to other admonitions that essentially convey a meaning to not do your best. Why on earth would you say that to me? I ooze passion and care and attention to detail and a desire to serve others. Why would you not want me to be those things which make me what I am, and which require HARD. WORK.

No one who knows me well or actually cares about me says that bullshit to me. Those who do say it protest my response with a mask of care: “I don’t want you to get burned out.” “You’re only young once.” “I used to work hard until I figured out it didn’t matter.” “You’ll wear yourself out.”

Not once have I heard from the same lips an admonition for self care, or to pause to enjoy the moment, or to take a moment to be grateful.

So don’t work too hard…relative to what?

At what point is work too hard? Am I not the best person to judge that for myself? Don’t I know my own limitations? Are you the one to make value judgments on my behalf, or…

“Don’t work too hard”…relative to you.

Because relative to me, you look like an asshole.