Everything in our capitalistic, consumer-driven culture is telling us to do more and be more.
According to Yahoo Finance, nearly half of Americans have a side hustle.
People aren’t taking these side hustles in order to get ahead. Rather, they are essential just to make ends meet.
We’ve all heard the stories of the teachers who are in the classroom during the day, only to start their second job as waitresses, Uber drivers or DoorDash delivery people in the evening.
According to Pew Research, the number of teachers who hold a second job is a staggering one in six.
This hustle economy tells you to push through, send just one more email, get up earlier and work more. It declares that when you are hustling, you will be sure to make it.
This year for Lent, I’m giving up the hustle.
Instead of pushing myself day after day, I am going to intentionally and mindfully choose to spend less time hustling and more time just being.
I’m going to listen to my soul’s cries for rest and peace rather than ignoring all those times I hear the whisper, “That’s enough for today.”
I’m not going to pretend like this is going to be easy.
The hustle economy has been a part of my professional life as a millennial since I entered the workforce in 2008. The economic depression stagnated wages and limited opportunities to move up into jobs with better pay and more flexibility.
My colleagues and I were susceptible to the “last hired, first fired” budget cuts that were prevalent across industry after industry. The student loan debt that Millennials carried into the workforce was crushing.
In other words, the deck was stacked against us.
The hustle economy became the way of life not because we wanted to get ahead, but just because we wanted to make ends meet.
We wanted to know that the paychecks we were bringing in would cover our expenses. They didn’t, but we still continued to hear, “Just hustle a little bit harder and a little bit longer and you’ll get there.” So, we did.
The allure of the hustle economy, especially for people who are working in a job where they don’t have much autonomy over where they work or how they work is that in your side gig, you can decide where you work and how much you work.
You can work just to earn money for a vacation, or you can work your side hustle until you make enough money to quit that job where you don’t have autonomy and become your own boss.
The hustle industry has infiltrated the $15 billion dollar per year beauty industry that demands you hustle until you reduce your waist and reduce your food intake to the point of slowly disappearing.
The hustle industry has convinced entrepreneurs that they have to hustle to beat the odds by avoiding being among the 20% of new businesses that fail.
The hustle industry sends articles and stories to our eyes and ears, enticing us to hustle more so that we can grow our business income fivefold this year.
This year for Lent, I’m saying no.
No to the ways the hustle industry has convinced us that we are not enough.
No to the ways the hustle industry tells us that we haven’t done enough today.
No to the ways the hustle industry allures us to believe that if we push just a little harder for just a little longer then we’ll make it.
This year for Lent, I’m saying every day, “I’m enough.”
I will walk in the beautiful affirmation that my mere existence is enough because I am the beloved child of God. I will remind those I love of that same affirmation.
Pastor of Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia, South Carolina, and editor-in-chief of Harrelson Press Publishing.