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Hustle culture is not toxic

8 sep 2021

I see countless tweets every day about how "hustle culture" is toxic, and they anger some part of me every time.

It was hard to pinpoint why that was. After all, I agree that rest is essential, and that mental health should be preserved at all costs, and that sleeping 4 hours a day is not sustainable. Still, when I see someone confidently preaching these things, I am filled with the sense that I should protect the things that they put down.

And then I started to get into the "hustle mindset". I worked 10 to 12-hour days most days during the summer on my early-stage startup. When I thought I couldn't go further, I pushed myself even more.

After I disconnected for a week mid-summer, I was thoroughly exhausted. Getting back to looking at a computer screen all day, typing things and planning things and asking things and selling things, recharged me.

When I put my head on my pillow at 6 a.m. one night, in the 5 minutes before I dozed off, I realized, it all worked.


Of course it worked. Working a lot will of course lead to some results. And I was willing to trade sleepless nights for those results. I was working for something greater than me, and I didn't mind actually working for it. Yet, all the content about working your ass off being toxic, even though I was triggered by it, had wired my brain into thinking this was some incredibly surprising result.

It's not that the argument against hustle culture is totally wrong. It's that everyone values different things. Some derive happiness from taking it slow and enjoying all the moments of their life. I derive happiness from working towards an enormous goal. I knew that deep down, and that's why reading "hustle culture is toxic" angered me: because it signaled that my happiness was not justified. That's also why they tweeted that sentence: because those instagram posts with a Lambo in the background and huge bold words saying "EAT SHIT FOR WHAT YOU WANT" signaled that their happiness was not justified.

Neither 280 characters nor cheesy instagram posts can convey this nuance. What we need, instead, is a literature of self-awareness.

Anyways, back to work.

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