We’ve Embraced the Hustle Life, and It’s Making Us Miserable
We have side jobs, the latest products, and an obsession with doing instead of being. But have we all been buying snake oil?
Doing my taxes this year, I noticed that the W4 form has transformed into a somewhat confusing jumble of tables and boxes. In one of these boxes, you’re meant to identify if you’re working another job to make ends meet, like freelancing or picking up Instacart shifts. Basically, the form wants to know: “Are you hustling?”
For most people I know, the answer is a resounding yes. A friend of mine is a talented videographer who bartends and takes odd jobs on the side. I know a preschool teacher who also babysits and moonlights as a Lyft driver. Two employees in my company run a side company and create content on Twitch. A fellow writer on Medium works a nine-to-five, then freelances in the evening. And me? I’m no different. I write, freelance in graphic design, and build websites to provide for my family.
Looking around, it appears we’re all doing the same shit. We’re hustling to make ends meet, “building our brand,” ensuring our startup doesn’t tank, or dreaming about the day our side hustle takes off and we can walk into the office and give everyone the bird.
Some of the things exacerbating Hustle Life™ are out of our control. I live in Austin, Texas, where the cost of living has skyrocketed in the past few years. Between 2017 and 2018, the cost of living rose by $20,000 per person, about a 33% increase. Also, the average CEO’s salary has grown by 940% since 1978, whereas their workers’ wages have grown by just 12%. It stands to reason, then, that most of us are hustling because we literally have to in order to survive.
Yet while it’s easy to place all the blame on these outside forces, the most insidious factor is the one we’ve all bought into. Somehow, society has collectively agreed that workaholism is normal, even good. If you aren’t working your ass off, then something is amiss. Just ask anyone our everyday go-to question: “How are you doing?” Guaranteed nine out of 10 times, you’ll hear the response, “Busy!”
We’ve tied our worth and identity to our performance, become a culture obsessed…