Too much hustle, too much bustle

Calasandra Spray (TheLorian)

To begin discussing the toxicity of hustle culture, first, we need to define it. In my opinion, hustle culture is the product of the American Dream: rags to riches story. This trope, prominent through early literature, suggests that with a little sweat and grime, you can accomplish anything. The phrase “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” came out of this trope. Many people mistakenly took this as a literal thing, that as citizens we ought to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps – an impossible task. Over the last decade, “hustle culture” has become a widespread phenomenon for young entrepreneurs. The ideology permeating this development rests within the rags to riches story: everyone wants to start their own business to strike it rich. 

The toxicity of hustle culture develops within the shame many people feel for not hustling and the exhaustion people face from hustling. I have noticed in those around me a sense of guilt if they are not perceived as doing enough. Unfortunately, I have fallen victim to hustle culture. I’ll take on tasks that I know I don’t have the time or energy for, like picking up an extra shift, an extra class, or making plans to help out family members or friends. I do this because it seems like everyone I talk to is doing more than me, so I feel like I should be doing more as well. A phrase I often hear from motivational podcasts is that we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, and if they can do something then we can too. Logically, yes, we all have the same twenty-four hours. But in reality, we do not. My twenty-four hours can look a lot different then someone else’s based on personal needs for physical and mental health.

Additionally, there is this widespread need to fill your time 24/7 with productivity. Yes, we all have the same twenty-four hours, but how we choose to spend them differs. One person may find joy in working out every evening, another may find joy cooking healthy meals, and some people enjoy letting their brains unwind by vegging out on the couch. I’m not promoting vegging out all of the time, but I also believe that having a negative stigma attached to how one person chooses to relax versus another promotes an unhealthy mindset filled with judgment. 

Burnout is not going to help any of us achieve our goals. So here is a gentle reminder that you don’t have to have a side hustle, you don’t have to be on the latest trends, there is no perfect way to live your life, and you are not falling behind. Take a deep breath and do what is best for you, not what hustle culture says you should be doing.

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