Hustle: this word sells a lie

People like to call themselves "hustlers" these days.


I used to love this word too, but just like the other word I love, 'wanderlust', people have taken the term and misused it so much that its been reduced to the state of meaninglessness.


My initial objection to the word primarily stemmed from the fact that much like "wanderlust", people with a huge following on social media like to say that they HUSTLE a lot to get what they show on social media - luxury resorts, exotic travel places, you know.

My exotic travel places are paid for by myself usually after a whole year of saving and scrimping. Is this "hustling"? 

I too wish that my "hustle" involved prancing around in clothes people will send me to upload to social media, and getting paid three months of my current salary in the process, but anyway. Nothing against these people for seeing an opportunity and seizing it, BUT it did start the beginning of my dislike of the word "hustle".

Rather than people "hustling", I think we're being "hustled" instead

Hustling in 2019 sells the idea that as long as you work long hours, as long as you are being "productive", as long as you make yourself available immediately to any work opportunity, you will be rewarded in the end with more money, more fame, more power, or whatever it is that tickles your fancy.

Hustling is a lie. 

Hustling in 2019 sells the tired old dream that "if you work hard, you will get rewarded no matter how long it takes". The reward that just "hustling" supposedly will get you neglects that:

- privilege (were you born in a rich family? did the Universe bless you with socially conventional genetic good looks? are you able-bodied? did you get a college degree because your parents could afford it?),
- luck,
- connections, and
- timing

all plays a huge part in netting you that end goal you so desire and crave.

Incidentally, middle-class Asian parents are huge believers of "hustling". That's why all their kids are shuffled to music, sports, language, and tuition classes at an early age so as to maximise the chance of the kids being able to use all types of skills in the future to "hustle".

I also learned that there are even enrichment classes for babies at 0 months because... they need to get ahead of their peers, yo! Babies just can't lie around and be babies these days, they need to hustle too! They need to be put on social media to garner more likes, so the parents can potentially rake in more money from their chubby cherubs, college ain't cheap!



I grew up believing that tired old adage too, that if I worked hard aka hustled, I will eventually get what I want.


This is a damaging belief, especially if you're a sensitive student and really studied hard believing that you will get 100% (which is what you want!), but end up getting 95% and feel super awful you never got that remaining 5%, even though you got NINETY-FREAKING-FIVE percent still.

Then there was my first job, and my first real foray into realizing I was sold a freaking lie about how all that studying would help me get a good job and pay. I was paid peanuts - a grand total of USD500 per month, because thanks Malaysian currency - but worked my butt off, staying at the office until 10PM for three days in a row just to make sure everything was perfect before the deadline. Sometimes, I was even at the office past midnight.

Only that didn't go anywhere, because my "hustle" was just me being made use of by upper management, who only saw my faults as an inexperienced writer - it was just "natural" that I would stay in the office without being paid extra to make up for my faults.

The more work experience I gathered over the years, the more I realized - "hustling" is a lie that people in upper management positions sell to their subordinates i.e. "if you work hard, you can be promoted and get a better salary!"

L-i-e-s. All of them.


The only "truth" is the amount of money you are making, when you see the cold hard figures finally appearing in your bank account, that is IN YOUR NAME.  

This is why most people don't have company loyalty these days. It's just so much easier to jump ship and demand a higher salary for yourself in the process, rather than to get your own company to acknowledge your talents BY paying you higher.

People, you can call me disloyal and "so millennial" all you want, I've got more and more bills to pay and changing companies once every couple of years is apparently the only way for people to thank me MONETARILY for my improving work and additional skills. Which, you know, is money I deserve.

I've also come to realise that if you are a true "hustler" in terms of work, whether it's work efficiency or work productivity, a company is just likely to use your skills to cover up for your less efficient and less responsible colleague.

But, wait a minute! They're not going to pay you extra to do that, oh no!

 I am not even writing this on behalf of myself, but on behalf of all these colleagues I have had that I knew were workaholics and great to work with, who put a lot of themselves into work, who replied bosses at 1AM, and who have always helped me out when I needed help. They were what I would consider true hustlers.

Yet, just because they could not produce the desired results within a short period of time (given that every company constantly doesn't have "budget" but still wants miracles which have to be done with a HUGE budget), they are gotten rid of, only for the company to start the whole process all over again with another person.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

HubSpot, as a company, was founded in 2006. It only reported a profit in 2018.

12 years later.

Yet employees are gotten rid off in 6 months or less if they could not reach the desired KPI, even if they've received less-than-perfect training, were not updated on the company's latest changes (or not given enough time to implement change from the last time before the company decides to "change" strategy again), or it's just a bad time economically.

I'm pretty convinced that the whole idea of needing to constantly hustle to get what you want is a lie at this point. Some people do succeed, but many must have failed and died a "failure" because their hustles didn't actually end in what they wanted (Google search "artists who died penniless" - getting famous after death doesn't count because THEY CAN'T ENJOY THE FRUITS OF THEIR LABOUR).

It irks me to see "hustling" still sold as the way to achieve what you want. Sometimes, you can hustle all you want, put all of yourself and your time into creating something, and it can STILL crash and burn.

It is okay to fail. It is what happens for most people, all the time.

At the beginning of my career I had all these goals about getting promoted, getting recognized at work, being appreciated for my efforts, being flown around the world on business trips, bla bla bla.

I "hustled" with long hours and perfectionism.

Now... I work just right. I allocate hours to work, I put all of myself into work without distractions, and I strive to reach my KPIs during those hours, as humanely possible. I've been described as "efficient", "meticulous", "organized" by a variety of supervisors and upper management personnel.


I do think it is my duty to do my best at work, because I accepted the amount of money that was offered in exchange for this work. I've come to realized, however, my best isn't always good enough for the places I work for, especially when they have... unrealistic expectations of what an individual can do.

(in my case, it's about creating pieces that will GO VIRAL and HAVE MORE REACH - guess what I do for work)

"Hustle" is no longer something I strive to do, even for my passion projects. Hustle can take out the happiness of everything, even if you truly love your hobby and want to monetize it in the process. It's a deep punch to the gut when you hustle for your passion project, and it still fails.

So now I settle for "leisure" - making sure I enjoy the process of whatever I do, without letting "hustle" taking the joy of it away from me. It may take a lot more time to complete whatever it is I'm doing, but at least I'm not doing it at the expense of my mental and physical health. You can't tell me it's "healthy" to work late into the night, even if you really love your work. You may enjoy it, but your mental/ physical health may be taking a toll you didn't even realise was being created.

Work and hustles will always exist. Some other people will use more time to achieve it sooner - but we don't all get to be those people.

What IS true that there is only one life for all of us, and we should just find the way we can best live our own lives. There is no need to hustle yourself to death, or buy that belief that "hustling" is the only way to achieve a life you want or idolize.

That is, definitely, a lie.