The Isolation That Hustle Promotes (Even If It Doesn’t Mean To)

Vanessa Smith
3 min readJul 8, 2018

Recently, Chris Ducker posted on his Instagram stories that hustle isn’t a new word, it was known in the past as hard work. This was what I needed to read. For years now I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the fingernails-down-a-blackboard feeling I get when I read the word hustle. And this Instagram post framed it for me.

For quite a few years, I was sick. It was like having a flu you could never get over. Obviously, sickness can have a negative impact on a lot of parts of your life. For me it was a struggle to attend work and maintain relationships of all kinds. I lost the ability to read books for fun, and my brain was too tired to hand in assignments on time when I was doing postgraduate study.

Put Yourself In My Shoes For A Moment

If you could barely muster the energy to show up for your day job, how do you think you would feel if you had a desire to work for yourself as well? If you had no energy to keep up to date with industries, tools and news in general. No energy to pitch possible clients, despite your desire to work for yourself. How would you feel?


That’s how I felt. Because all around me on the internet was this word. Hustle. That you can “make it” if you spend all of your time and energy on your “thing”. Only I had no energy. The spare time I had went into recuperating for the next day, not working on my business.

Hustle to me implies working more than is healthy. I was already struggling to manage a medical condition in my life. I couldn’t participate in an all night “hackathon”, go to networking meetings, or be an active participant in any kind of common start up or business activity.

No Village

Isolation helps no one. “It takes a village” might be a cliché when it comes to raising a child but I think it’s equally applicable to work, business, social, family and any other facet of life. Being unable to hustle meant that I felt isolated as I didn’t fit in with the norm in the business world.

Hustle has a negative connotation to me that hard work doesn’t. Hard work doesn’t feel as all-encompassing to me. It doesn’t feel like you need to work at your job or on your business at the expense of every other aspect of your life.

Hard work can be compartmentalised. You can set a timer and work hard for as long as you are capable.

Hustle is pervasive. It means working more than you socialize, or working late at the expense of sleep or cooking a healthy meal.

Did You Really Choose To Hustle?

My personal philosophy on life is that it if suits you and you truly want to do it, then you should. (As long as it’s not unethical or illegal.)

When it comes to hustle though, I don’t believe many people actively choose to work on their business at the expense of other areas of their lives. It’s my opinion that people fall into working more than is healthy, then see articles about hustling that then confirm that it’s normal, acceptable and ok, and don’t question it.

I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt here Maybe they do truly choose it, but it is so far away from my values in life that I just can’t understand why anyone would choose it.

Where To From Here?

I ask the business world, startup communities and employers to consider what language, activities and news can be done to create a more inclusive set of opportunities for those who live with a chronic health condition.

We all need a village.



Vanessa Smith

Vanessa is a personal blogger who talks about all things serious, funny and in between. She coaches creatives who Embrace their Shiny Object Syndrome for good.