Style Files | Why the hustle is highly overrated

The first time I heard the word hustle probably dates to a decade ago. It originally meant something of a swingy dance and found inclusion in rap lyrics at the time. Today if you look up its meaning, you'll have to sift through thousands of entries which have nothing to do with music. In millennial speak, hustle is now commonly known as a synonym for working extremely hard.

I've never actually used the word in my vocabulary but it has found favour in inspirational-positioned Instagram captions. More often than not, hustle is used in a positive context. For example, "she's really hustling by working day and night" or "you've got to hustle if you want to earn the green". Hard work is an exemplary value but when it's in the guise of wearing yourself too thin, that's where the problem lies.

Many of us are on almost 24 hours a day. I sometimes check my email first thing in the morning from the crack of my eye, even before I get out of bed. Jobs have the accessibility of being done at home in your pajamas, which is great; but not always. It means you can't switch off; so to-do lists always have tasks, meetings are always scheduled and your phone is constantly buzzing. After tending to all of them, you're left with blurry eyes, decreased focus and a full night's sleep that is more worthy of being called a nap. Most of us who work in careers that can be done remotely have experienced this at some point or another. Egged on by pseudo-motivational words on social media, we push ourselves and we try and we push ourselves even harder, just because hustling is what we're supposed to do, right? I mean, everyone else is doing it.

The challenge is knowing where to draw the line until the hustle starts affecting your personal life and health. When your phone is beeping off the hook, you can't afford to take a day off or don't have the stamina for a leisure activity, that's a telling sign that you've crossed it. As Nigel popularly said in The Devil Wears Prada, "Let me know when your whole life goes up in smoke. Means it's time for a promotion." Many sacrifice so much in the journey to be a part of the phenomenon known as the hustle; which is worrying. With the value of mental health growing increasingly important, it's about time that changed.

Working hard is essential but when you're doing it to compete with others, prove a point or post a motivational picture on Monday, you're doing it wrong when you should be doing it for you. The hustle is nothing more than an extremely overrated digital trend. It can make you feel invalid if your buddy is clocking in overtime on Friday night while you're out getting cocktails when you should be enjoying your evening. Create a wholesome life for yourself, not one spent running on fumes to keep up with what everyone else is doing. Hustling may go out of style but living well certainly won't.

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