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Hustle Culture Is an Ableist Health Minefield That We Need to Dismantle Now

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Hustle culture is an ableist capitalistic demon that we need to destroy that benefits and thrives off forsaking people’s basic needs as human beings while shaming and guilting you for anything beyond what’s out of your control. Yes, this is personal. 

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From a very young age, I was pushed beyond my limits. Trying my best wasn’t an option – I had to be the best, and that’s physically impossible. I worked my ass off, believing the lie that the more I worked the better I would be. I was living with undiagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I’d be sobbing, thinking I was “stupid” because I couldn’t do what seemed so simple to everyone around me. My confidence was shot, and when you add in the potential mood disorders I was working with at that time of my life the chaos of always grinding had me suicidal more times than not.

Even then, they told me I was lazy and that if I worked harder, I’d be better off. It would all be worth it in the end.

Spoiler alert, I did and it didn’t happen. 

Newsflash: you can’t hustle your way out of being disabled.

When people promote “the grind” and hustle culture, people are promoting a lifestyle that isn’t sustainable or healthy for a neurotypical, able-bodied person, much less anyone who differs from that. You’ll hear them say “How bad do you want it?” as a means of inspiration to keep going.

In the eyes of the grinders and hustlers, you’re supposed to want a job, new business, or money, so badly that you herculean style push through whatever blocks or boundaries are in your way so you can be successful. 

Newsflash: you can’t hustle your way out of being disabled.

These are the spaces where you’ll often see inspiration porn as well. They use the stories of disabled people to inspire abled people to do whatever they want. “If they can do it, why can’t you?” which is textbook ableism. Not to mention, if you are a disabled person and it’s brought up that there’s a disability or impairment that’s making it harder to do a certain thing (re: me, ADHD, and my executive dysfunction) they will bombard you with all the gross imagery of disabled people doing the exact thing. In my case, they’ll send you a list of the top 10 richest people with ADHD where they’re all saying, “My ability to multitask makes me feel like a superhero,” while completely ignoring your individual struggle and situation.

If it’s not inspiration porn, it’s guilt, shame, and gaslighting that they use to push their grind life agenda. It’s messaging such as “You’re not lazy, you’re just scared.” Calling us lazy is bad enough, but tell me, what the hell do we have to be afraid of? 

Maybe it’s not fear, maybe it’s that we don’t want to risk our health and well-being (which could also be fairly precarious at times) in order to be a big boss C.E.O. It’s not wrong to value ourselves first before the hustle and grind.

Not everyone’s body can handle two jobs, or one job and building a business. Not everyone’s mental health can take the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurism. Our lives can’t and shouldn’t revolve around work. Stress kills the most able-bodied heart. Think about what it could do to one that isn’t?

This is a health crisis that if we don’t tend to, people will die. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. The American Institute of Stress reports that 120,000 people die every year as a result of work-related stress, with different health conditions stemming from it such as heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and more. (Source: South Louisiana Medical Associates)

I have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé, and I want to use them to dismantle the girl boss, grind life, hustle culture era. Now and forever. 

Getty image by Drazen Zigic

Originally published: May 6, 2022
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