Why I Hate The Idea Of The “Side Hustle”

Originally Posted Here

I hate the idea of the side hustle.

Let me explain.

Since I was 16 I had a knack for picking up 2–3 jobs at one time. Sometimes I did it on purpose, other times it honestly just happened.

It started first when I was working as a cook in fine dining and one of the Chefs went to another restaurant and asked me to come along. Rather than quit my current gig, I decided to keep both jobs. Soon, that very same Chef asked me to deliver some micro greens (like micro beets, micro basil, etc) for 20 dollars an hour, which at the time (and even now) was amazing! So of course, I took him up on that offer as well. When I graduated from college I began working as a data engineer and this pattern continued

Quickly after entering the corporate world, I had a director who left come to me and ask me to help him consult on some work. I happily said yes. With that, I set up a consulting company on the side. It wasn’t long till I had a few other clients ask me to do work like teaching training on ARIMA modeling, develop models as well as programming work.

So before anyone argues that I am lazy or don’t understand what it means to side hustle…Realize I have been “side-hustling” since before I knew what it meant and I will probably continue for a while.

Honestly, it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago I heard the term “side-hustle” and I almost instantly disliked it.

Why?

Because it furthers the not so accurate narrative of working hard and getting paid is all that is important.

The Narrative

I don’t think all the influencers and CEOs that tout this message intend people to put work and money over all else. However, I find that their glorification of overworking unintentionally pushes the narrative that we should always be working. We should always be focused on making money vs living life.

As someone who has to constantly fight that mentality, I dislike it when it is glorified. When it is placed on some sort of pedestal as the life we should be leading.

Think about Jack Ma’s recent declaration that the employees of Alibaba should be working a 996 (9 to 9 6 days a week) schedule. Sure, we can look at these billionaires and see that this is what they do. Elon Musk’s schedule has always used as an example as the pinnacle of productivity. Like we should all be striving to live like that.

We glorify the workaholics.

We try to emulate them.

Just to add to this point. Let’s say you decided to be a workaholic and work 80 hours a week and you had an amazing hourly rate of $200 an hour. You would earn a little over $800k, that means even if we aren’t including taxes it would still take you over 100 years to make 1 billion dollars and Jeff Bezos has 100x more than even that. So that means you would have to work 10,000 years to make that much money at an amazing rate of $200. Just for a little perspective. But yeah, go ahead and work hard and maybe someday you will be like Jeff Bezos.

The truth is, $200 an hour would be more than sufficient. But we live in a world that hyperinflates what we can afford. We see the Instagram accounts of the “richkidsofxyz” and we want their lives. We want the Lamborghinis and the Rolexes, we want to show off how successful we are. Well…you better start a side hustle.

All of this just tends to add fuel to the fire.

It all fuels the feeling of, “you need to work harder” or “you’re being cheated”. Forget about being a good person, forget about spending time with your family. Put money and success over it all.

The Mythos Of The American Dream

For those who don’t realize, the idea of the American dream is a “myth” so to speak. A myth is really just “a traditional or recurrent narrative theme or plot structure”. We read about these myths every day in our newspapers, blogs, etc. We hear about rags to riches tales or about young 17-year-old entrepreneurs making billions. This is part of what keeps the American capitalist culture alive.

The problem is, these stories are cherry-picked. Not everyone who works hard will become a billionaire. Not everyone who has a good idea will become a CEO. This isn’t meant to discourage anyone. Instead, just to provide some realistic perspective on the whole crazy work schedule.

Counter

Just to be clear. I do believe working hard in America is a good thing. If my parents weren’t entrepreneurs and hard workers, my life would have been very different.

For some of you, you have no choice but to work hard. Perhaps you have a lot of debt or some other financial stress that requires you to work to get to a place where you can be more financially secure. Once there, we should then seek balance rather than to continue to put wealth over all else.

The fact that it has become a social norm to become unbalanced and to put profit over other people is frustrating. We ignore what is important and that is what I find disingenuous about this new American Dream. Don’t just work hard, but work 2x as long just to make a little extra so you can consume more.

It’s true that working hard is a good thing. I love that my parents instilled it into my nature as a child. However, the fact that we glorify the narrative that you should work even harder, and give up on life in order to benefit ourselves is the wrong lesson we should be teaching humanity.

The Sad Truth

The sad truth is….in some ways…it is somewhat necessary to overwork in order to survive in 21st America. We are getting to a point where houses are too expensive to purchase, even with a decent income. We are getting to the point where 80k in a city like Seattle, can’t support a family of 3. We are getting to the point where having multiple jobs is a necessity. In fact, even working multiple jobs is probably not enough if you were to have some sort of terrible accident that leaves you with a 6 figure hospital bill.

That’s what I hate about the side hustle. Working hard is something I enjoy. But the fact that for many of us, it is more than just something we do because we enjoy it. We take on multiple jobs because it’s the only way to pay the bills. There is no time in a 996 schedule to plan your own exit. You have no chance to make your own great company. Instead, you will constantly be making more money for someone else.

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