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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi South chapter.

Abraham Maslow, a prominent psychologist, wrote in his renowned book A Theory of Human Motivation about the concept of Self-Actualization. Abraham Maslow states, “What a man can be, he must be“, in other words, self-actualization represents the highest-order motivations, which drive us to realize our true potential and achieve our ‘ideal self’. Hence, we can say that humans have an inborn tendency to work hard and earn rewards and recognition. Nevertheless, these rewards and recognition come at a high price, and people are compelled to bend over backward far too much in order to earn them. The increasing population in the 21st century has led to increased competition, which holds up the idea of ‘the survival of the fittest’. 

In 2006, American rapper Rick Ross rose to prominence with Hustlin’, a smash hit song about his dogged pursuit of money and power. The song was a reflection of people, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, working persistently and continually in their workplaces and alongside that managing side hustles and freelance projects. In the 21st century, as a result of the Great Recession of 2008, people started feeling obligated to work for longer hours and invest more than half of their time and effort in their professional life. This feeling stemmed from the need to keep up with the rat race as well as the fast-growing world. Soon this rise-and-grind trend seen amongst employees and workers gave rise to the infamous ‘Hustle Culture’. People started working over 45 hours a week at their full-time job and in addition to that they simultaneously worked at a side gig for more than 6 hours. Most of them were in this plight to earn more and pay off their debts and loans, while the others were there to gain more experience and grow more in their respective professional settings. 

There is nothing wrong in saying that this toxic work culture was lucrative for many, especially when it comes to earning more income, polishing one’s skills, and accomplishing professional goals, but this work ethic has its own ramifications. It takes a toll on both your body and mind. One has to unplug from work at some point of time and allow their brain to unwind. It’s not a sign of laziness; it’s a result of biology. Otherwise, such an ‘always on’ manner of life will surely result in burnout.  

However, during the pandemic, when life slowed down and individuals had time to think about the kind of lifestyle that they had been leading, the urge to feel occupied at all times and the impulse to push harder took a back seat. As people were locked up inside their homes, they started realizing the essence of human companionship in their lives and the importance of taking a break. They realized that they were so indulged in climbing the corporate ladder that they had overlooked the beautiful moments of their life and had sacrificed their entire youth just for the pursuit of wealth and success. Most of the employees and office workers started recognizing this hostile trait of productivity and developed the discernment that it’s okay not to reply to work emails post 9 pm and waiting till the next morning to reply, won’t make an earth-shattering difference. Even corporate companies started giving compensation to employees during the pandemic to prevent burnout and stress-related ailments. Bumble announced a paid, one-week vacation for all employees, while Urban Company implemented a mental health leave policy. Duroflex is stringent about not sending work messages to employees before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m., and Melorra said that employees who are overworked or over-stressed can approach their managers/HR and take a break if they feel burned out.

During the early ’20s, a new and novel idea, called ‘Quite Quitting’ emerged and this was much-publicized in social media. ‘Quiet quitting’ refers to employees who put no more effort into their jobs than absolutely necessary. “Quiet quitters continue to fulfill their primary responsibilities, but they’re less willing to engage in activities known as organizational citizenship behavior: no more staying late, showing up early, or attending non-mandatory meetings,” stated professors Anthony C. Klotz and Mark C. Bolino in a September 2022 Harvard Business Review article which aimed at clarifying the quiet quitting phenomenon to the concerned executives. Managers’ responses to this phenomenon have been diverse. Some have been tolerant and accepting, in part because the tight labor market of recent years makes replacing quiet quitters arduous. Others have responded to quiet quitting by subtly, or loudly firing employees whom they see as slacking off.

In conclusion, the ‘hustle life’ is a double-edged sword. While it can be a source of motivation, drive, and accomplishment, it can also lead to burnout, stress, and a lack of work-life balance. An effective work-life balance is essential so that we don’t miss out on living our life in the midst of making a living. Creating time for oneself, investing a few hours in leisure activities, and going out with friends and family more frequently can be done simultaneously with driving one’s career momentum. Let’s not forget the words of American author and businessman, Stephen Richards Covey, who said “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”. By setting realistic goals, taking breaks when necessary, and cultivating a support network, we can strive for success without sacrificing our health and happiness. Ultimately, the hustle life is a personal choice, and it’s up to each individual to decide what kind of life they want to lead.

Florina Harris

Delhi South '26

Florina Harris is a 1st year Psychology student. You would usually find her siting under a tree, reading a book or scribbling something incessantly in her diary. She is a budding writer and likes to turn her fantasies and thoughts into words and words into articles. She strives to be a beaming ray of sunshine, an apricity during the frost-bound days.