So… Hustle Culture…

Hustle Culture: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for Millennials and Gen Z
Image: studybreaks.com

“Time is money”. “They’re sleeping while you’re working”. “You gotta hustle hard”. “It’s time to rise and grind”. “The hustle never stops”. “You can’t sleep for 8 hours, that’s for poor people”. “Don’t have fun in your twenties, just grind and enjoy the fruits of your labor in your forties”. “We all have the same 24 hours”. “WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK”. Do any of these statements sound familiar? The statements are often made in relation to hustle culture. As defined by Urban Dictionary, hustle culture is “The glorification of working very long hours in hope of reaching one’s professional goals while having a disregard for their health, and relationships with loved ones”. There isn’t much of a work-life balance when conforming to this lifestyle. People who are serious about their hustle have a robotic vibe to them. Granted, we should have goals and it’s important to work. At the same time, there’s more to life than just constant work loads. 

*Although the term hustler originated in the 1960s with a different connotation (Larry Flynt), it was popularized by street life in the 1970s, 1980s, and especially 1990s in Hip-Hop music. Several rap artists made references to drug dealing, pimping, and boosting throughout their music. This was referred to as hustling. The street professions often rapped about eventually turned into the artists rhyming about their transitions from street hustling, to legit rap stars.  

9 to 5 Job Shaming/Entrepreneurship:

Having a 9 to 5 job these days is frowned upon often. Some of those who choose to be entrepreneurs look at employees as if they’re less than or crazy for choosing to work for someone else. Employees may be belittled for lacking certain skills or for not being their own boss (customers, clients, etc. in a sense are like the boss of entrepreneurs and we all have to answer to someone). Employees can be shamed for their choices even if they have no intention of creating businesses. Many entrepreneurs believe that the only true way to be successful, particularly from a financial standpoint, is by running your own business. Success is subjective, so what may be considered successful to you may not be successful to the next person. Some people enjoy working jobs and that’s great. Many things can be gained from 9 to 5 work: fulfillment, happiness, stability, and even wealth. 9 to 5ers save money/budget/invest  too. 9 to 5ers take extravagant trips too. 9 to 5ers are capable of achieving anything that they put their minds to, too. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, so where would we be without our essential workers: healthcare providers, firefighters, food service workers, and so on? LOST IS WHERE WE WOULD BE WITHOUT THOSE IMPORTANT WORKERS!!!!! Working a job doesn’t mean that your life is over. Essential work should be respected and greatly appreciated. Not all jobs are miserable. In the event that your job is draining you, maybe you should consider changing that job instead of falsely believing the miserability is a sign to start a business knowing you’re not equipped for entrepreneurship. We all have to start somewhere if entrepreneurship is the end-goal. Until I’m prepared, know exactly what type of business I want to create, and make the final decision to start a business, I’ll be working jobs. 

THEY SLEEP WE GRIND FOREVER Poster | gunchii | Keep Calm-o-Matic
Image: keepcalms.com

Personality/Character is non-existent due to hustle culture:

We don’t exist to be working robots. We work to live. We don’t live to work. Healthy work-life balances are necessities in order for us to obtain stress-free lives. The life aspect of healthy work-life balance equilibrium is needed especially for us to function in our daily lives. The “simple” things in life such as a vacation, quality time with loved ones, socializing, and gaining new experiences are major contributing factors in shaping our character. Those that are heavily indulged in hustle culture fail to do any of the things mentioned. Their entire identity is work. They have no personality and their character is pretty much dead. Having conversations with people who are only about hustling and nothing else can be exhausting. Granted, we should work to support ourselves and families. We also have to embrace other facets of our lives that are just as important as working. Conversations regarding our interests and differences in perspectives are healthy. Being able to laugh is fulfilling. Not taking yourself too seriously at times is important. Having creative outlets that you can genuinely appreciate are important.

The constant neglect of basic self-care is being normalized when it can be detrimental to health:

“Let them sleep while you work”. I’m not a fan of phrases similar to this. How are we expected to function properly without sleeping? How can we “hustle” without rest? Extreme cases of no sleep can be fatal. According to PassportHealth, “Employees might experience poor sleep and increased chance of stroke. The mental health risks are no better, with a greater chance for depression, anxiety and even suicide”. Burnouts occur when we’re stressed about work. From personal observation, people who overwork tend to have unhealthy eating habits and non-stop headaches, forcing them to use over the counter medication often. Fast food and junk food become convenient options for them to consume; it’s quick (access to several vending machines, nearby fast food chains, and even unhealthy home cooked meals). Excessive intakes of these foods can cause other health issues: diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, cancers, etc. Some people are so absorbed by work that they fail to receive proper medical care/be present at routine doctor visits. The hustle has to stop sometimes in order for you to properly care for yourself. What good will hustling serve you when you can’t enjoy it due to severe health complications? Is hustling hard really just as important as mental and physical health? I don’t think so. However, in modern day society, hustling is the only thing that seems to matter, even if it kills you.   

Babies and “The Bag”:

Instagram modeling has become a conventional career choice for many young women today. According to trendHero, “Instagram models monetize their online presence by gaining a large following and getting direct contracts from brands”. These models are often entrepreneurs, makeup artists, beauty gurus, fitness gurus, and entertainment artists (actresses, singers, rappers). They’re famous for their bodies (whether surgically enhanced or naturally fit/and or thick), fashion sense/trends, and hair/makeup upkeep. Instagram models’ biggest fans include athletes and entertainers. It’s the personal lives of these models that interests the public/media and potentially give the collective a bad rep. One thing that these models get the most flak for is having babies for the sake of “securing the bag”. The men who procreate with influencers are in part responsible for the pregnancies. However, in most cases, they aren’t held accountable or to the same standard as the models. Unless these are genuine relationships, the babies can be symbolic of substantial cash flows. IG models are seen as gold diggers especially when they have a baby. Child support along with random acts of generosity from men can be used to fund the fabulous lives of the IG influencers/models, creating another form of hustling.

Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work? - The New York Times
Image: nytimes.com

My Take:

Hustle culture is glamorized, but there’s nothing glamorous about it. I dislike the idea of working non-stop then feeling guilty or ashamed for being human: going to sleep, taking a break, eating, taking an extended vacation, spending time with my family and friends, seeking medical attention, and overall enjoying the gift of life. The thought of me working myself so hard until I’m sick is unfathomable. I take pride in my health and overall well-being and never want to lose that. Between the ages of 18 to 25, it’s expected by hustle culture that your entire life is already figured out: already working within your career field, homes purchased, cars purchased, and so on. While I think it’s awesome for these things to come to fruition, I have to acknowledge that everyone’s path is different. It’s inspiring to see my young, talented peers with this undeniable drive about them. I’m driven as well. Simultaneously, there’s nothing wrong with patience. It’s okay to enjoy your teen years and twenties. It’s okay to try various things to figure out what you like and dislike. Not having everything figured out early doesn’t make you a failure. Maybe you should be more optimistic and take great opportunities as they present themselves. Some of the most “successful” people in the world were in the same predicament and only got to where they are by taking leaps of faith, chances.

Nowadays, I feel that so many people want the title “entrepreneur/boss”, but no one wants to put in the actual work to succeed. We see several businesses created where the quality of the product is poor or the services provided aren’t up to par. In spite of this, sometimes, the prices are outrageous and you don’t get what you paid for. It’s also popular to put on fronts. People now love to be something that they aren’t, entrepreneur being the most popular. You should take pride in your business and if you don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset, accept that business isn’t the right path for you. If you are an employee and no one has ever said this to you, I’m saying it today: I respect and appreciate everything that you’re doing. Your hard work never goes unnoticed. 

Bearing a child is serious in terms of health, emotions, mental state, and finances. No, I’m not a parent and it’s not my place to judge others. However, if the sole purpose of you having a child is to fund your lifestyle, you’re already unfit to be a parent. Being a parent is one of the, if not the most, important roles in life. Babies should never be used as quick cash grabs. 

As I’ve mentioned before, success is subjective. Although being financially stable is successful, so are other factors. Being the first person in your family to graduate high school may be successful to you and that’s something worth celebrating. Finally facing your fear of something can be successful. Breaking generational curses can be successful. 

The notion that everything we do has to be monetized is sad. It takes the fun out of what we simply enjoy doing. Hobbies and work overlap so much now; there’s no line between work and participating in activities for your own pleasure. If you’re good at something, it can turn into a stream of income at a certain point. However, it’s fine to indulge in pastimes at your leisure without money being the end goal.  

Life is precious and there’s more to life than getting the bag. Money is important. We do need money to survive, yet, other life factors are just as important. Continue to work, just not to a fault because it can literally kill you. Embrace those moments you spend with those you cherish. Take advantage of going to your favorite places and live in those moments without distractions. Always remember that time is not money. Time is time and once it’s gone, you can never get it back. 

Sources, Further Reading, Viewing:

Hustle Culture’s Black Roots : Code Switch : NPR

GoodTherapy | The Question Keeping You Up at Night: Can Insomnia Kill You? (No sleep side effects)

Why I’m Not Here for the 9-to-5 Job Shaming: Rant – Miss Unconventional (I don’t like to read other opinions on the same topics I cover. However, author Kierra’s rant on 9-to-5 job shaming is a great read and I agree with many points she outlined. Be sure to read!) 

Overworking Effects on Physical and Mental Health | Passport Health (passporthealthusa.com) (Health and overworking) 

Food For Thought Life Stuff Mental Health Matters

Dajonik L. Bickham View All →

I’m a New Orleans, Louisiana native. I highly appreciate the art of writing and anything related to expressing yourself. I’m an aspiring author and believe that articles will be a great way to hone my skills. I never like to limit myself, so my content may vary by topic even though you may see a series of articles with some similar themes. I hope you enjoy my writings just as much as I enjoy creating the work!

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. “Time is money”. “They’re sleeping while you’re working”. “You gotta hustle hard”. “It’s time to rise and grind”. “The hustle never stops”. “You can’t sleep for 8 hours, that’s for poor people”. “Don’t have fun in your twenties, just grind and enjoy the fruits of your labor in your forties”. “We all have the same 24 hours”. “WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK”. Man, I already feel tired.

    And what’s worse, I’m very susceptible to all of this ever since my middle school days. Whether study or work, I can just lose myself, and often my body reminds me harshly of it.

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