The Toxicity of Grind and Hustle Culture

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

By Shahane de Silva | Sri Lanka


“WAKE UP AND GRIND” has become gospel for many of us Millennials and GenZs. Every morning we hit the ground running, despite being overdosed on caffeine and severely sleep-deprived. We are driven by the modern day sickness that is hustle culture.

Don’t get me wrong – I strongly believe in chasing your dreams which requires a lot of hard work. But when does this chase end? For a lot of us it doesn’t.


We live our whole lives killing ourselves for our professions until we realize we’ve been living a miserable existence; hustle culture promotes an existence that glorifies not having a life outside of your work.


I was headed in this direction. Believe me I know what it’s like to chase a poor metric for success – to brag about how little sleep I was having and to be infected by a perpetual albeit toxic need to keep working to feel good about myself. What’s troubling is that I was just a student and I knew too many people who were just like me.


Read this article about redefining your own metric of success.


Hustle culture is prevalent in modern society for two key reasons: “Toil Glamour” & “Performative Workaholism”.


“Toil Glamour” is when people brag about not having time for anything except work.

They brag about their lack of sleep, how much work they have, how they need to meet deadlines etc.

People wear this like a badge of honor because it’s “cool” and it implies that you are “successful”.

This is simply due to society branding people who don’t work constantly as “lazy”.


You could compare it to how in the 1930s, smoking and drinking were advertised as “cool” till people found out they led to cancer and strokes. Similarly, when taken to its extreme, hustle culture has the potential to shorten your lifespan by taking a toll on your mental and physical health.


Click here to read up on the detrimental effects of hustle culture on your mental health.


“Performative Workaholism” is continuously working till you’ve finished a project, no matter how tired you may be. This is usually self-imposed because we fear that we are never doing enough.

We put in ridiculously long hours and kill ourselves just to appear as if we are working; to prove something to ourselves or to someone else. The idea that constantly working (or appearing to work) is a desirable trait leads people to fear taking time off for themselves or having a life outside of their work.


Hustle culture isn’t new, but it disproportionately affects Millennials and GenZs due to social media. We aren’t just trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” anymore; nowadays, online comparisons are driving us through the wall to constantly keep up, only to achieve a poorly defined metric for success.


At this point, I would imagine that those of you who can relate to these phenomena would like to course-correct.


Firstly, adopt a dogma of quality over quantity. I wouldn’t be impressed if someone who worked 14 hours did the same amount of work as someone who worked 8 hours. It is pretty simple. Focus solely on your work for an allotted time everyday, so that you can walk away from it for the rest of the day.


Secondly, and more importantly, change your priorities. Move away from working all the time and pursue a life outside of work. Spend time with family & friends, and dive into those hobbies that you never made time for before.

“You should hustle because you enjoy what you do, have personal pride and see a chance for progressing your career in it. But you should also be allowed to have time and energy to explore your non-work passions (exercise, reading, music, whatever it is) with equal hustle” Jay Lauf, the CEO of Quartz

You won’t be happy working all your life. You’re more than just your work. Life requires that you do everything in moderation, and if you don’t listen, you’ll learn the hard way.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this entry are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Zeitgeist. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). The Zeitgeist does not verify the accuracy of any of the information contained in the entry. The Zeitgeist is not to be held responsible for misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this entry.




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