Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Admit it--once in your life you've looked at the young youtube vlogger who held the shiny gold keys to their spacious apartment in New York or California, and sighed. You then instantly set a time clock for yourself to achieve these same goals in the same time-frame they did, factoring out the endless hours of editing, the price of a new camera, a bright ring-light, and a backdrop you needed to even start a successful channel. Needless to say, all the keys that glitter under Instagram filters aren't gold--and every journey isn't your own.
Constantly, we focus on the idea of "keeping our foot on someone's" neck ( a slang term used for succeeding while excelling above everyone under us), even if that means stepping on our own. We look at the lives of others and almost in an instant start looking at our success as a ticking time bomb, thinking if we don't get to it in time--it could explode. In reality, if we keep injecting this concept of "hustle heroine" into our veins, we'll overdose.
Now, I'm not saying that hustling hard for the things that you want is a bad thing, because it isn't. It shows that you have drive, but what happens when you drive yourself off your own cliff of unrealistic expectations? Hustle heroin is when all you thrive off is hustling, often captioning your photos with the tired (pun intended) line that, "sleep is for the rich." Yet, believe it or not, sleep is for the mentally and physically stable.
In life, there must be balance or else you'll fall. That's a common law of motion, so shouldn't we apply it to ourselves? One of these days we need to have the much-needed epiphany that we're addicted to running ourselves into the ground for the sake of ending up on a "30 under 30" list. Why are we addicted to such an unhealthy practice? It's because we can't get enough of the feeling it gives us. The achievements, the accolades--it puts us on our own high that we can't seem to come down from.
Recently, I had to have the conversation with myself that I was an unbalanced piece of work, and that I was addicted to #hustleculture. I was talking to my mom about my college experience, telling her how much of a great career move it was for me. She then asked me, "well what do you do for fun, have you been having fun?"
I paused, twirled my pen between my fingers, and then proceeded to answer her as my voice rose a few octaves,
"Well um, I--"
That's when it hit me, I didn't really do anything for fun. Yes I found writing as somewhat of an escape, Netflix was only a click away, and the carbs comforted me more than my covers did--but I really couldn't think of how much "fun" I had indulged in this year.
I searched for more editorial internships than I did for parties, and although the answer of brunch ran through my mind--I'd only been to three.
I defended myself, "Well, when I'm making six figures by the time I'm thirty-five, I can have all the fun I want."
She laughed in what I knew was disappointment, telling me that I couldn't be "all work and no play." She told me I was supposed to be having the time of my life in college, while also "securing the bag." She then presented the scary reality that I could be the person that only has "work" to entertain themselves.
While it wasn't the worst thing in the world to think about, it sure was far from pleasant. The only thing I'd have to come home to when I'm thirty five would be a desk full of papers.
That's when I made a promise not only to my mother, but to myself--to live life without a deadline.
No, I'm not saying I won't adhere to my professional deadlines, I'm saying that I won't confine my success to a deadline of a certain age. I know that one day I will make it, and you will to--and that if it's meant to be, there should be no rush to what is already written. We don't skip ahead in novels to get to the best part, we have to go through the slow stages first. Even though it might be painful to get through those first few chapters, it's well worth it. So if we could have that kind of discipline and patience for some hardcover novel, why can't we have the same energy for our own life stories?
I challenge you to slow down a little bit, and take in all the things life has to offer. Focus on reading the pages of your story and taking in what's already been written, don't worry--the good part is right around the corner. Before you try to catch up on what page I'm on, I've already got a head start.