A workaholic strives for the perfect resume, but at what costs?
By Alyssa Figueroa
It wasn’t until middle school that Ithaca College sophomore Brett Matlack realized he was smart.
“My parents would be like, ‘Wow you did really good on this,’ and then teachers would comment, ‘You have such a good work ethic,’” he says. “That kind of feedback made me think, ‘Wow I am good at this. This is the one thing I can take charge of.’”
Brett was never the greatest actor or the star athlete in grade school, but since he had the ability to do well academically, he became motivated to work even harder. High school, he says, was a “race to the top,” and he proudly graduated as valedictorian.
Brett continues this emphasis to succeed in college, where he takes six classes—18 credits—a semester in order to graduate a year early. He reasons, “Some people are here to make friends and have a good time, and some people are here, like me, to get a degree and get the hell out.”
As a business major with concentrations in international business and finance, Brett’s goal is to be the leader of a corporation and become wealthy and happy.
“Happiness is important, but to be happy I’m going to need a nice, big house, a nice car, the ability to send my kids to prestigious institutions,” Brett says. “I think if I work hard now, I can relax and be happy later.”
So Brett continuously works hard all day, every day. Besides attending class, Brett also rows for the varsity crew team, which practices six days a week, year round. Now pulling faster than some seniors, Brett realized his freshman year he was good at crew and began putting in extra time at the gym to get better.
“I like the competitive nature of crew,” Brett says. “I like showing people that I can be better than them.” Between class and crew, Brett is also a peer advisor and tour guide for the business school and a member of Sigma Iota Epsilon, a national honorary and professional management fraternity. He is also in the top ten percent of his class, qualifying him as an Oracle Society member. With a top-notch résumé, Brett believes he will get accepted into graduate school for his master’s degree and be on his way to his career.
“I don’t do anything for fun; I do it for a purpose,” Brett says. “I do it all to look good on my résumé.”
Hustling to class with a “grab-n-go” lunch bag in hand, heading off to club meetings, running down to the boathouse for crew practice and doing homework any time in between, Brett allows himself to socialize with friends in the dining hall after practice for half an hour. Though friends often ask Brett to hang out on the weekends, he almost always declines in order to stay in and study.
”I wish I could spend more time with friends, but I have my priorities,” Brett says. “If I have free time I’ll call someone, I’ll hang out…but I do have guilt I’m not doing something to benefit me in the long run.”
After dinner, Brett goes back to his room to do homework until he goes to sleep.“ My favorite part of the day is going to bed knowing, ‘Hey I did what I wanted to do today. Only a couple more [days] down until I get my degree,’” he says.
“I don’t know what I want to do yet, but I want people to recognize me,” he says. “I want my own Wikipedia page, I want people to read about me.”
For now, Brett continues to take control of what he is good at and works endlessly in order to perfect it. It is clear Brett is the epitome of a workaholic. By making work his top priority and never pausing to see the other opportunities around him, he loses sight of what can make him happy right now, and perhaps what would have made him happy all along. Although Brett’s way of life may take the ideology to the extreme, the “success equals happiness” thought process he exhibits is adopted by many Americans. With the end goal in very distant view, they are constantly running toward it, forcing them to sacrifice other things in their life, like friends, a social life and peace of mind.
“I know I’m stressed out beyond belief,” Brett says, “but it’s worth it. The greatest satisfaction for me is getting an A on my paper and saying, ‘I deserved this, I earned this and I put my time into it.’”
Brett says he believes he will undoubtedly be successful one day and have the fame and fortune that he has sought so fervently. He says, “I think hard work pays off. Isn’t that the American Dream we were all raised to believe? If you work hard, you’ll succeed… and for me I think it’s a direct correlation. I will succeed no matter what I do.”
Alyssa Figueroa is a sophomore journalism major who works hard for the money, so you better treat her right. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.