Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Walk Inside


The other day, I told you that I was working on an essay - a rant, really - against the use of the word "hustle" by 20- and 30-somethings in a professional context.  I've written and rewritten it over and over again; with every draft, it went in a different unproductive direction.  Once I discussed millennial arrogance, another time I talked about the pros and cons to having an office job and working your way up the corporate ladder as opposed to going freelance and/or starting your own business, and in another draft I talked about what it meant to be creative in your career no matter your title or field.  It was a mess, and all it did was get me more and more worked up.

And then I saw this quote from a TED speaker named BrenĂ© Brown and I realized that it doesn't matter who hustles or why or if it works for them.  It only matters how I work - how I devote myself to my career, how I develop my professional identity, and how I balance that with everything else going on in my life.  If people out there want to hustle, that's their choice.  It doesn't affect my decision to stand inside my own story.  And, if I'm really there, I won't let all the hustle rhetoric bother me.

31 comments:

  1. I'd love to hear your rant! I'm beginning to think that for me it's a societal thing. I definitely say that I need to hustle-- something, that when I think back to it, comes from the cog that was the basketball program in my North Central Indiana home town that I entered when I was five. They started you at that age and worked up through middle school so that you'd be ready by high school for the varsity team. And Hustle was a big deal. You hustled 200%, not 100%. All sounds a bit military to me now.

    Regardless, I still use the term because in my mind, it is synonymous with working my ass off to accomplish goals I have set, whether it be improving my shooting percentage and forcing turnovers in the game, or accomplishing something huge for my business in my life today. That, of course, doesn't mean that I don't have balance in my life. At the end of the work day, I turn off the computer, close my studio door and relax. However, I do know that if I don't hustle (or work like a mad lady, whichever way would be better to say it) during the day, I will literally fall behind-- there's just too much work to get done in 8 hours and I already struggle to keep up with it all as a one woman show.

    All that to say, that's why I use the term, AND I really wish you would have published your original posts! I am incredibly intrigued to hear what your thoughts were on the whole usage of that word!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha you should know better than to encourage me! but what I came to understand through writing the drafts is that you (or anyone) saying you hustle for work isn't a commentary on how I (or anyone else) work or on how you see me (or anyone else) working. It's just about you. I was taking it as an accusation, and that came from me, not from anyone else!

      Delete
  2. I always find it so interesting to read your thoughts on things like this! To be honest, I never use the word "hustle" and I don't think I've heard many people use it! So, it's interesting to me that it's something that bothered you, as it's something I've never really encountered!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I almost exclusively hear/read it from freelancers/entrepreneurs I follow online and, as someone in love with her desk job, it makes me feel very "other"!

      Delete
  3. To be honest, I'd like to hear your original thoughts on it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't find a way to say it without offending people (see my response to Whitney's comment above) but the short of it is that we ALL hustle. we all have to pay rent and put food on the table and WORK no matter what we do professionally. nothing financial is secure. we all hustle.

      Delete
  4. Would love to hear your thoughts! I actually quite like the word from a feminist perspective, and don't associate with any particular career or quality. For me, it's always had masculine connotations and in that sense I like reclaiming it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Like many others, I would actually really like to hear your thoughts. I'm 22 and I hear people my age use the word hustle all the time, but to be honest I don't really get it. Sometimes I tell myself to hustle, but as a "get your butt in gear" thing... and as I said, I totally don't understand the current cultural understanding of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. haha you should know better than to encourage me! but, honestly, your second paragraph explains exactly why I needed to realize that other people talking about their hustle doesn't affect ME in any way. most of us have to work hard no matter what we do, and the way you (or anyone) define the way you work doesn't make the way I define my work any less... viable. I just feel like "hustle" is the new "busy" and it's become an adjective to brag about. but if that adjective motivates you (or anyone else), then I shouldn't read more into it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have never heard anyone say it in real life outside of sports, but 95% of the time I read/hear it on social media it's being used by female entrepreneurs/freelancers/creatives in their 20s and 30s. I think it bothers me because of my own insecurities about where I (as someone who loves - and will probably always want to have - a desk job) fit into the blogging world!

    ReplyDelete
  8. this really wasn't meant to be a tease! haha I feel like I was being really manipulative with this post but that wasn't my intention at all - it was more of a "hey, this is one of those cathartic blogging experiences" thing. but maybe I'll try again!

    ReplyDelete
  9. HUH how so? I had no idea it had gendered contexts. I mean, I hear men using it in sports and women using it in terms of earning a living... but tell me more!

    ReplyDelete
  10. so I'm definitely thinking that I read too much into "hustle" and the intent behind its usage! it almost always reads to me as a special snowflake thing, like "look how hard I'm working - I deserve to be patted on the back because I'm reaching for the stars" but it sounds like that might not be fair. again, blogging shows me I'm being absurd :P

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh I didn't mean that as a criticism at all... I don't think you're being absurd! I know exactly what you mean. There is one blogger in particular that I'm thinking of who uses hustle all the time (and #hustle with a hashtag... even worse) and it's SO annoying. She's a full-time blogger and for some reason in this context (of self-employed freelancers etc.) it's even more annoying. Maybe because it seems like they're trying so hard to seem oh so busy when the reality doesn't come across that way? If that makes sense?

    ReplyDelete
  12. haha don't worry I didn't take it as a criticism! but really sometimes trying to write things out makes me realize that I'm overreacting. in this case I will try again to put my feelings into words - but without the unproductive rage :) the part of it that bothers me is that it reads as if working hard is unusual when, in fact, it's absolutely not. we all work hard, but I think I'm being oversensitive when I read it as "... and you're not because you have a desk job and you're not your own boss and so what you do is less crucial to your life." As I said to Heidi below, why should I take it personally if that word motivates others? I shouldn't.

    ReplyDelete
  13. And because I am old, hustle means, yes, to move quickly "hustle your butt" or work hard but to me it mostly it means a con/scam/fraud. A con man 'runs a hustle' . There is an element of manipulation or coercion involved. I'd be interested in hearing what the current take on the word is.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sarah | For the Love of ChowNovember 12, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    From my perspective, there seems to be a romanticized idea that moving AWAY from the "desk job" brings you happiness and so those that I know that are "hustling" are trying to move away from a desk job to their real passion or calling. I think it's great that we're moving into a space where we're accepting that not everyone was meant to work the "desk job", and that you can make a living doing all sorts of cool things, but I must admit for a while I took offense since I kind of dig my "desk job" and worked really super hard to get there. Not to mention, calling it a "desk job" totally marginalizes the awesome technical things I create and contribute to society every day. And then to top it off, society and my peers were telling me I needed to hustle and find my "real" calling?!


    But, similar to this post, I realized that I should just feel darn happy and lucky that I have something that I like to do, and I'm working to make the world a better place every day with my career. I don't have to be my own boss, start my own company, or "hustle" to find my true passion to get away from the desk job. My true passion is the work that I do every day, and that's pretty awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Disclaimer: Totally subjective and not an academically based argument.

    I guess I always associated it with Hustler magazine, "hustlers" as male prostitutes, and its use in sports (still a very gendered arena, pun intended ;). Mostly, it brings to mind an image of a man in a suit "hustling" to make it to the top. In that last context, I think many would see hustling as a normal, maybe good, activity (except, of course, in its use to describe petty crime). But if I think of a woman "hustling" to the top (however she may define "the top" for her), I think many would still see (if not articulate) something uncomfortable in that.

    (Side thought—I wonder do any men actually use the term as it relates to profession? Likely not. Hmm...)



    Certainly, I think my own views on this are strongly influenced by the fact that I live in a country (Malta) where feminism has a LONG way to go, women are not at all equal in the workplace (almost half, in fact, don't work for various reasons). If I used the word "hustle" locally to denote any type of professional activity by a woman, it would not go down well. Which is why I use it ;)

    I hope some of this makes sense, although I'm having my doubts as I haven't had my morning coffee yet. I do love discussing word usage, as I think it's an absolutely fascinating cultural and historical space, so thank you for initiating the discussion! I like that I can count on you to bring both light and heavy things to the blogosphere—it's what keeps me coming back for more.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ahh, I can definitely see that. I do think that there are people that will post in a social media context about how much they have to hustle-- as if they are so busy that that somehow makes them beyond cool. I wrote a post about the whole concept of being busy a while ago, and I can understand how "hustle" could be used in the same way. I prefer to us the word as motivation rather than bragging rights. For example, I often tell myself, "Ok, it's hustle o'clock." As in, "Let's do this! Time to get to work!" Haha.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Super interesting! I didn't make any distinction in the use of the word between those with desk jobs or those that work for themselves. When I was teaching, I definitely worked hard, and now that I work for myself, I still work hard. I think that has more to do with the person and how they focus on their goals rather than the job itself. Having a "desk job" doesn't make your work any less crucial. And technically, I'm working more of a desk job now than when I was teaching. I am reminded of your Instagram post about working from home. I commented that you made it look much more romantic than it truly is. Perhaps, this is all more a situation of the grass looking greener and somehow the word hustle has been associated with that. We all do what makes us happy (I hope!), and you shouldn't feel as though your work is any less important. And based on the snippets of information you've given about your job, I think you should feel proud of the work you do regardless of what others seem to imply about running their own business/job.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oooh Betsy! So timely! Thank you for this post. Back in April, I read this article: http://blogs.citypaper.com/index.php/the-news-hole/desperate-hustle-way-life/ ...and now I think often of "the desperate hustle" as the reality that my steady professional career job will still never allow me to "get ahead" or be comfortable financially in the future. Like, the rich get richer and everyone else hustles. That's how the word "hustle" is working for me this year.

    ReplyDelete
  19. When I hear the term "hustle" I think of someone who needs to get busy to get the job done. I don't really think of it associated with any particular career or even male or female, as some have pointed out. And because we pay attention to zero sports, I never even thought of it like that!

    Basically, I think of any person trying to meet an end goal, and the sooner they get there, the better (for them). Tonight I have a craft show and I'm hustling to pull all the things together for it because I'm the only one responsible for it, it has to be done at a certain time, and if I don't have it all together, then I'm going to look dumb at the event. So my "hustle" is my "get up and go".

    ReplyDelete
  20. I HATE the word "busy" when it refers to work, or even social events when someone is so "busy" that they're late. Heidi and I have talked about this before. But I think "hustle" has a different connotation.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I really like your brain Betsy. And keeping in tune with the post, I'll note that I really like mine too, but I like yours. It's a good one :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. see, I like the way you use it. I need to stop reading so much into words that don't have to be loaded!

    ReplyDelete
  23. YUP. in it's not loaded context - whatever that means, I guess - I understand it as, like, a sports term or an slightly illegal one. not what most people mean these days, I'd think!

    ReplyDelete
  24. "Perhaps, this is all more a situation of the grass looking greener..."


    YES. and thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. it does make sense! and it makes me even more fascinated with how we use and understand words. this is fun :)


    and thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  26. YES YES YES TO ALL OF THIS and basically it's what I think except I couldn't say it without being snarky to other people. but I will try again :)

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your thoughts and suggestions! Please do leave a comment so we can get to know each other better.