The Paradox of Hustle Culture
I recently saw this tweet:
So many people in this world have extremely high levels of talent and skill. Only of a fraction of them will have the right social network, financial backing, and pure luck to become “successful” by capitalist measurements. Rich people are not as unique as we think.
Not everyone is going to make it big. So if you want to be as rich and successful as Angelina Jolie- this might not be a fun read for you. In this article I explore themes in relation to Hustle Culture that I feel we don’t reflect upon enough. I’m assuming that if you felt enticed to read this article that you may be feeling the same way; you may be in search for answers, and asking yourself what’s next?
I would also like to acknowledge that I’m writing this article from a position of privilege. I have a college education and I am able to voice my opinions on this platform to express these anxieties. And while valid, I believe they are also symptoms from a society that increasingly places an absurd amount of pressure on young individuals and the meaning of what it means to be a “success”.
Why do I always feel like I’m running out of time?
Lately I’ve been feeling unmotivated to do the things that I know will benefit me: having a regular sleeping schedule, studying and doing work without distractions, writing this article…
I’m on the cusp of transitioning from my studies to finding a job in the field I’m interested in or (perhaps) pursue more schooling. So when I turn to binge watching as a form of escapism, the last thing I need is another mainstream show revolving around high school students. Where are the realistic shows about 20-somethings navigating hustle culture? (Looking at you, Emily in Paris).
How I’ve learned to cope with this: I try to remind myself that things take time to manifest. Talking to people older than me also makes me feel less anxious because hardly anyone is where they thought they would be if you asked them what they wanted to do 20 years ago.
Don’t think you need to commit to something just because you’ve already invested time into it. As time goes on, you can always change your mind.
What is your goal?
We’re made to believe that working hard and committing to the entrepreneurial lifestyle is a beautiful struggle… that is, if it pays off in the end. For example, one of the most glamourized lifestyles is the celebrity. As we know, the celebrity embodies both fame and fortune in the public eye. We may look to these people to inspire us to work harder and make it a goal to be recognized for our craft.
However, what we are constantly sold from success stories is the idea that these people are in their position because despite what everyone else said, they continued to pursue their dream as the underdog. Also known as a starving artist, this could be someone one who sacrifices material well-being in order to focus on their artwork. They typically live on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes toward art projects.
Simply put, this lifestyle is unrealistic for many of us because we have bills to pay and other commitments that take up time in our every day life. This works for some people, but you need to decide if this is meant for you, and no one else can tell you that.
How I’ve learned to cope with this: Strive to be self-taught- but not for reasons tied to monetary values or compensation. Explore how things work, ask questions, and try to new things even if they seem challenging- because 1) it helps you practice self-discipline 2) it’s fun. That way, you remove the pressure that everything you do needs to be your best work.
What kind of game are you playing?
The Social Dilemma is a Netflix documentary illustrates what it feels like to be a player in this game that we’ve constructed for ourselves. The “game” does its best to grab our attention while keeping us captive in its world- flitting from task to task until we “beat” whatever we think we need to overcome. The “game” also looks a lot like Jumanji- we go into it with the belief its a one-player game failing to acknowledge the help we need along the way in order to win.
Social media is a vortex and in times of social isolation, perhaps our only connection to the outside world. School, work and meeting new friends or romantic interests are compensated as best as they can with online interactions.
But there’s also this feeling of disconnect when we’re constantly looking at what other people are doing, and how they’re using their platforms. I subconsciously keep searching for answers to questions I’ve never thought of- as if a well-being coach on Tik Tok can heal my childhood wounds or the next article I read will teach me how to pursue a successful relationship. It’s only when I took a step back from consuming this information that I realized how detrimental it became. Self-awareness is an important quality to possess but sometimes we become so fixated on what is “wrong” with us- as if we are incomplete or lacking something.
I want to leave you with a quote I came across recently that stems from the philosophy of stoicism and the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions:
The obstacle in your way is but a stepping stone in your journey -Marcus Aurelius
So while Hustle Culture can be beneficial because it pushes us to want more for ourselves and live up to our full potential, there are often a lot of things that we can’t control, no matter how hard we work for them or how badly we want them.
We can’t control if we get the gig that will catapult us onto the path that gets us our dream job and we can’t control who we will meet that will change our life forever. The biggest peace we may ever find is this: what’s meant for you will always be yours.