Let Us Please Stop Glorifying The #Hustle!

Or Don’t. That’s an option too. Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash

Did you need a report to tell you that working too much is bad? That even doctors, who according to Grey’s Anatomy have invincible superpowers, shouldn’t be working for more than eighty hours per week?

And yet, let’s look at one report. The one that says that 8 in 10 Americans are stressed out. In India, I’d make that number 10 on 10. Because nowhere in the world is hustling such a big part of work ethic as it is in Asia. We are the overachievers of the world, and we learn to hustle from a very young age.

What do we do with every common phenomenon these days? Make a hashtag and get it to trend, of course. Out of curiosity, I looked up #hustle on Instagram because it seems so popular with the current workforce- the one that I am part of. The posts are a collective of quotes that basically translate to ‘hustle or die’, and pictures of people with shiny MacBooks, to-go coffee cups and so on. Let me ask you, dear sire, when do you get the time to clean the chocolate stains off of the keyboard and explain how your name is spelt to a Starbucks employee?

So I’ll burst the bubble and just say it- that’s just the highlights reel, as with everything else on social media.

When you #hustle, you feel the need to respond to an email at 9PM, well after work hours. But then it can also creep up on you in the form of a WhatsApp message, and Whatsapp messages as we know walk the tightrope between personal and professional communication quite beautifully.

“Hasita, here’s something that needs to be done asap tomorrow, but let me just put it out there now so you may be crushed by the weight of tomorrow even as you sleep tonight. BTW, let’s catch up for drinks this weekend and also take a look at this cat meme hahahaha…”

Not kidding.

When you #hustle, someone else is stretching a bit more than they’re comfortable stretching. A friend, a spouse, a child, a parent, a roommate- they’re all taking on tasks to keep both your lives going so you can continue to work thirty hours a day.

If you live alone, then it is the food delivery apps working overtime, although they’re the only ones in your support group who actually don’t mind. If you have a family, I feel very, very sorry for what you’re missing out on.

Because I know.

I did the #hustle through six of my daughter’s summers already. Typing mails on my phone (#connected) even while we were playing word building. Checking my email when she’s at the park because that’s one less thing to deal with tomorrow. Working on weekends to catch up. And then, one fine day, I saw my daughter colouring her book all alone for over two hours, and that memory breaks my heart even now.

Do the people in our lives deserve this?

If these emotional appeals aren’t for you, let me remind you that most jobs today are creative roles. There’s absolutely nothing you can get away doing without spending time thinking. And if you’re always hustling, when will you think?

As a writer, my (very few now) clients know that I am being paid as much for reading, learning, observing and articulating as I am for writing. This is why I don’t charge by the word. This is why they don’t expect to know how many hours I spend for them every day and focus instead on the outcome. That is a true blessing in a world of too many time-tracker apps.

If you don’t want the alignment, you probably don’t deserve the outcome.

This is why I am proud to say that I work for no more than five hours a day now. My weekday early hours begin with a good workout, and evenings are a jolly mix of soaking in the rain, going to every park in the neighbourhood, cooking from recipes my mom spends an hour explaining, and reading Ruskin Bond to a daughter who is already, surprisingly, scarily and too soon, old enough to read by herself.

I cannot help the time that has gone by in my ignorance, but it is a pledge to myself, and a request to you- stop the #hustle and live, just a little bit more. I’ve seen my fair share of old people dying, and no one ever said, “Oh, but I wish I’d spent more time in my cubicle!”

It is possible, either way.

Currently telling stories of the heart through poetry and prose. When not obsessed with my feelings, I also work as a freelance copywriter.