Ah yes, hustle culture.
If you’ve been around long enough (or if you voted on my Instagram story a couple weeks ago) then you know I’ve had this topic in the queue for a long time.
This concept of “hustle culture” has taken over the world and now we can’t escape posts that talk about how the “daily grind never stops” or tips on how to create more productivity in your life.
But as a creator myself, I feel like hustle culture actually stifles creativity. Even though we believe that this mindset is supposed to help us create the reality we want, I feel like it’s doing more harm than good.
So if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts about this, keep reading. And make sure to check out the audio version of this on Wednesday! In the meantime though, feel free to listen to my old episodes on your streaming platform of choice.
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Let’s get into it, shall we!
What is “Hustle Culture”
We hear this term all the time, but I’m sure there are some people who have no idea what it is. According to Google, hustle culture is defined as “a lifestyle where your career becomes more important than other aspects of your life (i.e. relationships, self-care, hobbies, etc.)
How is Hustle Culture Detrimental?
Well, for one thing, rest is important. Rest shouldn’t be a reward for hard work, it should just be something you do because it’s necessary. Hustle culture doesn’t promote that.
It promotes overworking and constantly being on the go. If you aren’t being productive and using every spare hour that you have to try to get to your goals, then you’re a failure. You aren’t hustling hard enough. And this is incredibly damaging to your mental health because you start to force yourself to be productive when your body is telling you that it needs to take a break.
Inevitably, this is going to lead to burnout, which I have a whole blog post about. I’ll link it here:
how to deal with creator burnout
do you struggle with creator burnout? read this post for what it looks like, my experiences with it, and tips on how to deal with it.
I’m not saying that hard work is a bad thing, but when you start feeling this intense pressure to succeed based on what you’re seeing online or you start dreading something that you used to love, then it becomes a problem.
What Does This Look Like For Creators?
I would say that for creators this can manifest as the classic signs of burnout.
We are in a world of comparisons and we are constantly seeing other people’s art and success on full display so it’s hard not to compare yourself and it’s hard not to think about what you could be doing more to achieve that level of success.
You might start doing more than you can handle or pumping out more content when you aren’t in the right headspace to do it. You might sit and work on something for hours on end without any real break because you feel like you might become irrelevant if you do. Maybe it starts to manifest into losing passion for what you do or for anything in general. You might start to dread it and deep down you might feel like you failed because you can’t maintain this constant state of productivity that everyone talks about. And in turn, you start to neglect your self-care and the people around you.
If this sounds familiar, then you aren’t alone.
The thing is, social media is fake. It’s a cesspool of what people want to show you, so sometimes we may not be getting the full story. They may look productive online and like they have everything going for them and they could actually be struggling behind the scenes. We don’t know anyone’s life, just like no one knows yours. And you aren’t required to run yourself into the ground in order to achieve your dreams.
If you don’t take the time to rest and give yourself the breaks you need, then you can’t give your all to what you want to do. It’s impossible to be a machine that never stops. We’re human for a reason.
My Experiences With Hustle Culture
Honestly, this is something that I struggle with quite a bit, so I’m giving you advice from a place of knowing.
I would say from a creative aspect, I find myself struggling to produce content when I’m burnt out and it usually comes from participating in hustle culture, even if I don’t realize it. I’m an extremely ambitious person who wants to achieve every goal I set for myself and sometimes I’ll overwork myself to get there. Is this healthy? Not at all.
I juggle so many things in my life. Not only do I produce content for my own stuff, but I also create things for my mother’s hair-care business as well. On top of that, I do work and go to school full time, so it’s a lot to handle and there are a lot of moments where I dread doing anything creative because I don’t have the energy for it. Sometimes I just want to sit and not think about everything I have to do.
But I always have this feeling like I’m wasting time, that if I don’t get back to work soon then I’m not going to succeed as fast as I want to, and that’s how the cycle continues. So I manage to burn myself and I tend to not prioritize self-care or my mental health first.
I actually had a similar situation this week. As you all know, I started a job earlier this month (which I’m quitting by the way, but that’s a story for another time) and it takes up a lot of my day. I don’t come until late at night and I usually only have the weekends to get everything I need to get done and still take care of myself.
Last week, I spent the whole time hanging out with friends and as fun, as it was, I just felt so drained after the fact. I was so upset that I didn’t get the chance to do what I needed to do. It was part of the reason why I had a hard time relaxing because I just knew there was all this shit I had to finish.
So this week was dedicated to that. And I actually finished some things and I started a new project, which made me feel good. But I was still running around for two of my three days off, which left one to sit in the house, chill, maybe clean my room, or do laundry. Basic household stuff that I haven’t gotten to yet.
Right now, my mom is in the middle of this huge order to Germany and she needs all the help she can get, so I was willing to go to her warehouse and spend the day helping her. I figured that I had done enough of my own stuff this weekend and I felt guilty for not being much help for the past three weeks because of my work schedule and the fact that I’ve been pulled in a lot of different directions. I told her that and she said no. She told me that I’ve been working way too hard the past couple of weeks and that I deserve to have some type of break to do what I need to do and that there’s plenty of time to help her.
So today I slept in. Grabbed a cup of coffee. Finally did the laundry that’s been piling up in the corner of my room for the last two weeks. And I sat down to finish writing this blog post because that’s what I wanted to do. And it made me realize that I really did need that break because I’ve just felt so overwhelmed and stuck for the past couple of weeks. I keep thinking I need to please everybody but every time I do that I end up regretting it because I didn’t give myself what I needed.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that you have your whole life to work. Hustling is cool. Being successful is amazing. But when you need a break, take it and don’t feel guilty for doing it. No one is going to think you’re a failure for prioritizing yourself first.
This is something I try to keep in mind a little more and I think as the year progresses, I do want to implement this rule that I take at least a day or so to actually rest. And I don’t want to keep forcing myself to do things that I don’t feel like doing whether that’s creatively or personally. So what if I’m falling behind or “not hustling hard enough”. At least I know I’m doing the best I can and I’m taking care of myself first.
How To Keep Yourself From Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
How do you stop yourself from getting wrapped in it? If it’s the first time or the hundredth time, I’m sure some of these tips might help you escape the cycle.
Stop comparing yourself to others
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: comparison is the thief of joy.
Comparing yourself to other people is a waste of your time and all it’s going to do is make you feel inferior about your own work. Hustle culture thrives off of burnout and comparisons, so by doing that you’re just feeding the beast.
Understand that you are exactly where you need to be and that anything you desire will come in due time. Patience is key. Don’t let social media fool you into thinking that you aren’t doing enough because you are.
Take a chill pill
Take a break!
In case the last couple of times didn’t stick, I’m saying it again. Rest is necessary so take a break when you need it. Whatever makes you feel relaxed is what you should do when your body is telling you that you need time. Because if you don’t actively take the time to rest, trust me the Universe is going to force you one way or another.
Time management is key
I can’t tell you how many times my mom has talked about how important time management is. It’s part of the reason why I’m able to juggle so many things.
It’s important to be productive so you can get things done, but it’s also important to carve out time for yourself too. You have to make that decision based on your schedule because it’s going to look different for everyone, but I’ve found that a routine helps a lot.
I also love making To-Do lists so that I can see what I need to get done for the day and then I feel accomplished once I crossed it off. It makes me feel less overwhelmed and like I’m managing my time better.
Make something that’s just for you
Now, this is for my creatives! I think I mentioned this before, but I don’t remember what post. I think that you should have projects that are public if you’re planning on making a career out of your art, but I also think that you should have things that are just for you.
Maybe that’s creating the art that you want to create. Or writing a story for fun. Maybe that means baking in your free time or painting. It’s important to have a hobby that isn’t attached to anything because that can be your safe space when you’re overwhelmed with a lot of other things.
I know I like to write random short stories or make collages if I have the free time to just be creative. And I don’t really share that stuff online or with other people because it’s just for me.
Let the Universe handle it
Stop stressing about it! Keep doing what you’re doing and the Universe will reward you accordingly. You can’t control everything so just let life play out the way it’s supposed to.
So, that’s why I feel like hustle culture stifles creativity. In order to be your best self, you have to give yourself the room to breathe and this mindset doesn’t allow that. Like all things, I think it has to be used in moderation.
If you enjoyed the post, feel free to share your thoughts on the subject. How do you feel about hustle culture? What’s your experience like?
Until next time!
-The Writer Chick
3 thoughts on “how hustle culture has stifled creativity”
Love this! I fell into of pit of insecurity by trying to keep up with others trying to make it, even after people told me that I already have. I think being 36 and a Creative Director working with great and young talent that love and breathe “hustle culture” got to me. I never stopped to realize that some of them looked up to me and my “success!” It took me a while to see and understand that there is more to life than “hustle culture”. Success is what goals you set for yourself and work to achieve. “Hustle culture” feels more like a keep up or get left behind in your own failures Do I want more? Who doesn’t? After taking a look in the mirror, I realized I am where I need to be. I began cancelling personal projects and stoped worrying about what others are doing. Great blog, I can’t wait to read more from you!
Thank you so much! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story! 🙂
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