The Hustle Life Is Not What You Think It Is

These days, some people consider having a side hustle as a badge of honor. They think being a hustler is working hard. However, the word roots in negative connotations. Apple’s dictionary defines a hustler as an aggressively enterprising person. I don’t think anyone ever called me aggressive. It’s not exactly in my nature. Though, a few weeks ago, someone called me a hustler before cutting off all communication.

It began with a LinkedIn connection request.

Usually, I ignore any connection requests that don’t accompany a message. This person’s title indicated a background in the publishing industry, so I hit connect and fired off a brief message. Given our shared backgrounds, I asked if there was a way to support each other’s work.

The person responded with a short LinkedIn message that amounted to, “yes, here’s my email.” I sent more or less the same LinkedIn message, this time to the person’s email address. Since I didn’t know if they were looking for freelance writers or wanted access to The Writing Cooperative’s writers, something I get requests for from time to time. I kept the email short and focused on questions.

The response I received was odd. Honestly, it should have been my first sign things were going in the wrong direction. The person’s email was, again, concise. This time, they provided a phone number and asked for a call. The email also attached a PDF screenshot of a website article about the person. I guess they intended the attachment as a biography, but it came across as strange.

Now, with my feelers up, I sent another email. In this one, I asked for a little more information to “make sure we’re in the same ballpark.” I wanted to avoid wasting my time or theirs if there was no way to support each other’s endeavors. Asking for details was apparently the wrong move.

The person sent back a short and fiery email. They called me a hustler and asserted I’d been waiting their time from the moment I reached out on LinkedIn, even though they sent the initial connection request. I decided against responding. When I pulled up LinkedIn, I noticed the person was not on my list of recent connections. They presumably blocked me.

If looking out for your time and asking for details before taking a meeting makes me a hustler, then I’ll accept the mantle.

There’s a strange infatuation with overworking in our society. Being a hustler and giving into that hustle-grind are supposedly good things. As an entrepreneur and freelance writer, I work hard and encourage others to do the same. However, I don’t want to hustle. I don’t want to grind out my days, giving into aggressive tactics.

Instead, I strive to be respected and honest in everything I invest my time. If that makes me a hustler in today’s vernacular, then let’s normalize a better name. One that honors each other and values a work-life balance instead of focusing entirely on production and output.

Have you ever been called a hustler? How did it make you feel?

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