Saturday, February 25, 2023

hustle and slowness

I spend a lot of time listening/watching youtube videos while doing other things, mostly since they involve less investment than a show or movie and I can just put them on as background noise I can listen or not listen to as my hands are busy folding or trimming books. Most of it is plus-size fashion bloggers artist vlogs, and thrift store-related content, but I stumbled recently into a strange land of videos of women, mostly in their thirties, talking about their rejection of hustle culture, which is countered by the crazy morning routines and discussions of productiveness and goals and hustling by another set of women, usually in their twenties. Like on instagram, there is a lot of workout gear and yoga and juicing. Journaling and 6AM wakeups,and reading that Atomic Habits book everyone somehow has. The thirty-somethings live in idyllic places like France or some countryside somewhere, drink a lot of tea, read many novels, are usually married or partnered, and talk about "slow" living. They may make a living off youtube ads or selling art on etsy shops. One does something with astrology for money that I don't think I understand.

Maybe it's a decade-of-life thing, and I'm not sure where I stand as a woman in her forties on this equation or if it matters where I stand at all.  Truly, I can see both sides, but also tend to roll my eyes at people who talk about rejecting hustle who seem to be enjoying a financially stable existence that doesn't depend on whether they hustle or not (likely family money or a working spouse) It reminded me of a recent article about a woman who was encouraged to step away from hustling but feared the ground she'd lose if she did as a writer and whether or not she'd be able to pay her rent or eat and I related so hard. There isn't really a safety net sometimes, so all you have is hustle. I also have a similar eyeroll for discussions of minimalism, which are easy to have if you have the cushioning to replace the things you threw out if you need them later. 

But also I think the hustle I've always done, even when working for somewhere else. There was a sense of stability (well not much) but I needed to hustle, to cram in as much as I could, do as much as I could. And in many ways this is still true.  Because I don't have that stability anymore, I hustle quite a lot to make sure I have pillars of income to keep things afloat should any of them fail. I want to keep things humming along with the press because it feels like important work, so I wind up hustling there. I need to hustle with my own writing and art because these are the things I am most passionate about and feel I should spend my time doing. It's not about awards and publications so much as it is about putting work out and being creatively productive as an artist and writer. This is the most valuable way--the most content way--I can think of being in the world.  I want it, and only parts of it even seem like work. I'm not sure that deciding all I was going to do was drink tea and read novels, tempting as that is, would make me quite as happy as making things, doing things. Maybe the key is finding balance. 

One of the vloggers talked a lot about the danger of seeking validation outside yourself and always longing for the next rung on the ladder, and here might be where I might agree, but I'm not sure dismissing hustle is the right culprit. You absolutely should hustle for the things you love and that are important to you.  And you may have to hustle for things that are less important but keep food on the table (right or wrong, it is what it is.) But you might want to examine if you are always constantly seeking the next things--this is true in art, professionally, in life. I've known so many people who hit a goal (a book deal, a big money prize)  or a milestone (a marriage, a child)  and then, discovered that it didn't scratch the itch they thought it would. Immediately, they think the next one and the next one will guarantee the happiness they crave. This also seems like a maddening existence, though there is nothing wrong with working for what you want. For setting goals and having ambitions and things you want. The trick is maybe not hanging your happiness on them like a coat that fall to the floor at any moment--especially what you don't have control over.

So of course, the goal might be only hustling for the right reasons, but then I suppose those reasons are going to vary according to what you want and maybe not what you've been told you should want. I want to work hard, don't mind working hard, but I want the gains for that hard work to be mine, which, after years of working in a job I wasn't remotely compensated for, that I invested 8 hours a day and endless mental real estate, at least now I feel like I am hustling for me, so I guess that's as close to slow living as I can