Are You Pretending to Love Work? – The Hustle Culture and False Expertise

pretending to love work - hustling

Disclaimer: The comments below don’t apply to all workplaces and life situations. Change your tab if you’re a die-hard hustle supporter and come back in a couple of years.

A while ago I started a Reedit thread on how inhumane the hustle culture was.

Here’s what someone wrote:

My friends and I were talking about this today. Someone at his company committed suicide just last week and he’s still processing it.

We’re all working in tech in various fields and we were noting how fragile everyone’s mental health was. My UX designer is constantly in tears. My senior PM is often in the toilets crying.

I don’t think the picture is clear black and white, but I’m finding times much more stressful and when I look around me there’s a lot of anxiety and depression.

I hear news of workers committing suicide at work or on the basis of work at least weekly. But they happen DAILY if not hourly. Here’s a list of suicide rates by industry.

This alone without all the stress-related stats is enough to open our eyes to how huge the problem is. But are we aware of this?

I don’t have any numbers, yet from what I’ve seen, most of these people are over 30 which could mean they’ve been stuck in a rut for years and haven been postponing it. That’s just an assumption though but worth thinking of.

What we need to remember though is that these “numbers” and “percentages” are real people. Like you. Like me. Like us.

Low pay.

No job security.

Long work hours.

No free time.

Workplace bullying. [Yes, it’s still a thing.]


High workloads.


All issues which start with management, specifically poor leadership. Not counting the 12.5/100,000 managers who are just slaves to the culture. I’ll get to this later.

It starts with a global system

Unfortunately, the current life system is keeping people stuck in jobs they don’t like and don’t want to do just because they need money. Simply put, they’re afraid they’ll go broke. In turn, they’re too scared to quit, too scared to say anything, to scared to keep living.

This also creates a false illusion that people are just obsessed with working.

A world where everyone is busy and everything they need to do at work is important. By nature, humans don’t value work alone. You love other things too, not just proactively contributing to the business world.

In reality, it’s all a culture based on prestige. Trying to come off as someone you’re not or pushing yourself to emulate another person’s success. It’s that status-seeking run where everyone wants to be the best, sell more, gain more, be respected, be adored.

Employees don’t love back-to-back meetings. They hate performance reviews that spread over weeks and months. They don’t want to be stuck in useless conflicts. They don’t want to put together another report or presentation deck. They don’t want to be slaves.

What are employers doing?

Most of them nothing. So employees turn to taking antidepressants [which as I’ve debated here do nothing but postpone a tragic event] and crying at work.

Believe it or not, some are putting as much as 80 hours of work per week. And while I did that for a couple of weeks too [because it’s just something you need to turn to if you want to see business results faster], it’s NEVER sustainable in the long run.

The “all work, play later” mantra is disconnecting us from reality. We no longer know what’s going in the world, in our countries, not even with our families. We’re too busy scoring a client and landing deals.

How do you think these people will feel when they go home after spending 12+ hours in an office as they scroll through their Instagram feeds and see others enjoying their lives?

And no. It’s not just a fake image that social media gives you. Traveling the world or spending time crafting is infinitely better than not being able to ever do that because you’re stuck at work.

It’s the pressure of modern life. But we’re all living it so why not have equal opportunities…

False experts and business idols

This takes me to the false “expertise” I mentioned in the headline.

I’m talking here about all the hustle lovers who advocate working non-stop, waking up at 5am, and just doing nothing but work. They’re everywhere. You’ve seen their “motivational” videos and are probably a fan.

But what they never tell you is how they’re really feeling, why they’re secretly crumbling, why their human relationships fail, why they’re sick, how they’re wasting the best years of their lives, and all the things that truly matter. Beyond any business.

Most of the energy they put into their work isn’t really going to benefit society. It’s solely helping people with a need they think they have at work.

With such models, people are dreaming the wrong dreams.

They want more money, more cars, more fame. They’re already rich and can literally retire but they still HAVE TO double their yearly earnings. πŸ™„ Anyway, this is another issue: obsessive behavior. Not going to get into the psychology of people.

Hustle. Success. Wealth. Fast-pace. Winning mentality. Business master. Change your life.

All pretty words they’re selling to us WITHOUT thinking of our mental health.

These people are no different from you. In fact, many have done exactly what they claimed would lead to success but got no results. Fair to say, all of your “motivational speakers” simply have an extra business edge. They’re not smarter, not more hard-working, and definitely don’t have a higher EQ.

Simply, they met the right people, used their charisma, were in the right place at the right time, took advantage of an industry or need early on, and are almost always doing something in the background they won’t tell you. Whether that’s giving up on social life, paying other people to do most of their work [which can be a good thing], cutting ties with their families, ignoring their health, eating only junk food, not having taken a break in years, not having seen a movie in months… all those normal and healthy life aspects people value so dearly.

Ultimately, they’re just pushing the “24/7 hard at work” mentality as a quick excuse to their success. I used the term excuse instead of reason or something similar because frankly, not everyone is self-made.

Where’s the humane in hustling?

It’s about being human. We’re often experts at our trade and glorifying our results, but when it comes to the things that really matter, we just lack. Like knowing what food to eat, how to take care of our bodies, how to stay mentally sane, how to make and keep long-lasting human relations, etc. But “luckily” we can all double our profits and triple conversion rates in a month. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

The problems then spread from one company to another as founders look up to just about anyone who’s more successful.

CEO dude is overworking employees to deliver faster? I’ll do that too.

Founder dude is paying minimum wages and gets amazing results? Let’s do this.

Survivorship bias much?

Most are like living beyond their means to keep a status.

We’ve come well beyond the era where hard work meant success. It’s now just kill yourself a bit every day and stay miserable if you want money and fame. And money doesn’t have any emotions to give your sanity back.

It seems that becoming a hard-as* C-level professional is making a comeback. Despite everything we already know. But I guess that’s how history goes. Nobody learns from past mistakes but they want to emulate the results of others who are sometimes mere “victims” of undeserved success.

The brain stuck on terror

People are so terrorized they’re switching not just jobs, but careers and industries too.

No exaggeration.

All these are issues of a complete system. So leaving one job for another isn’t likely to make things better. Wage growth is extremely weak while the costs of basic needs rise so you’re forced [again] to get a sh*t job. I’ll go as far as to say that stress and burnout problems are directly correlated with how precarious the economy is.

It’s become so bad that people will go to extremes and refuse a shorter workweek just because “they need the money”. Americans don’t even use all of their paid vacation days. Mind-boggling fact for someone who’s passionate about real life. It’s probably because they subconsciously [or willingly] think they won’t be seen as hard workers and their income will go down. If that’s the case, switch your employer or specialize yourself in a field where you don’t have to prove your worth.

Companies want loyalty out of their workers, but they’re quick to get rid of their employees when it’s time to reduce headcount. Even the most caring of managers don’t really pay much attention to the well-being of their employees. They’re just too caught up running for them dollars.

Mad world. Mad profits.

People are mad about profit. Even when it comes at the expense of someone else’s life.

The New York Times is keeping their paywall on vital news related to the coronavirus. Although they obviously already make enough money. Not even going into subscription-based websites that “help you connect with other experts”. How about you connect us with peace of mind and not more fake growth opportunities?

On the positive side, I’ve noticed an increasing trend towards working part-time jobs instead of the regular 8-9 hours. Maybe one day this will be the standard. A human can only dream… πŸ¦„

The average UK worker spends 2 hours and 23 minutes on productive work.

Your job is not worth your mental health.

Take a day off now and then.

Will anyone ever talk about this?

Published by Alexandra Cote

Alexandra Cote is a SaaS content writer and strategist with a passion for workplace productivity, social media marketing wonders, conversion rate optimization, artificial intelligence, and keyword research (Hooray for SEO!). Reach out to her via LinkedIn or her blog.

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