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  • Writer's pictureNitul

Are millennials and Gen Z people misinterpreting the meaning of hustle?

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

“Stay humble, hustle hard”. Ever saw this line written on a T-Shirt? You most likely have. The word ‘hustle’ has been made highly popular by the motivation industry in recent years. But the question arises here that are they endorsing the real meaning of hustle?

The internet culture has revolutionized the way we consume information and knowledge. Things that used to be limited only to the privileged ones are now accessible to all irrespective of social backgrounds. This has liberalized the way we think or view the world. But with all these, the internet culture comes with a big issue that it overhype everything. You must have noticed this. If you are active on any social channel, you must have seen that any trend gets overhyped once it starts getting attention. Be it a song or any life hack; it becomes highly followed by everyone. The word ‘hustle’ has been made immensely popular amongst the Gen Z and millennial audience in recent days. Nothing is bad in that. But overhyping on anything starts giving misrepresentation of it. The real meaning of hustle also got a ton of misrepresentation in the digital universe and the worst part of this is very few are aware of it.

Meaning of hustle
Source: Unsplash

The worst side of the Internet narrative:

See, nothing is bad or good in an absolute sense. It depends on the people you are trying to share with. The problem with the internet culture is that it starts generalizing everything. Maybe someone is enjoying his/her nine-to-five work life. There is no point mocking him by saying that he is not having a life. Things are subjective here. But again that does not mean that every nine to five is a good choice. Similar to the hustle culture. Everyone is hustling just by following the crowd. Some are just following the crowded narrative without even knowing what they really want. This is the worst part of the internet culture. You are always pressurised to follow the crowd and that is not at all a good sign for any philosophy.

The real meaning of hustle:

The dictionary definition of hustle means the process of achieving something great by implying rough efforts. It has both negative as well as the positive side of uses. However, we will emphasize the positive side of it. The internet has been flooded with content relating to hustle in recent days. Now everyone is saying hustle and hustle while ditching their jobs or college placements. In one way this is a great sign for entrepreneurship. On the other hand, it will bring more people into the ‘hustle zone’ just by pressurizing them. This is kind of a similar situation to engineering in India. For the Indian collectivist narrative, engineering and medicine are the two only available options to get success in life which is totally wrong. A similar narrative is being built for entrepreneurship.

See, a job is a form of slavery in the real sense. I have always said this. But that does not mean that you will bring every other person to entrepreneurship. That is not practical in a real sense. Some people love doing creative work, practicing activities like singing or dancing. Similarly, some people might not be talented in all these kinds of activities or probably they are happy with their nine to five. Generalizing will lead to just degrading the level of quality in entrepreneurship.

Having a clear thought process is difficult in today's time. You are bound to get influenced by the digital universe. By knowingly or unknowingly, you are highly prone to get influenced by digital social narratives. In such a scenario also if you have been able to find your IKIGAI, then congratulations! You are halfway done with your journey. Now it's time for you to hustle only. When you are working really hard on something you genuinely love and want to achieve greatness through it, you can call yourself a hustler.

Millennials are misinterpreting the meaning of hustle:

Not exactly the millennials. The digital social narrative is prescribing the misinterpreted version of the hustle and definitely, the millennials and the Gen Z audience are becoming the victims of it.

You are a looser:

You are a loser if you are not hustling. This is a narrative that is highly popular in the digital world. Now every other college kid wants to have a startup. This is a great sign. But the problem is with the thought process. Most of them are not doing this because they love it. They are doing it just by going after the crowd wanting to be popular or rich. That's why the majority of college startups we can see are just the copy pasts of already successful startups. They are not focussing on solving the problem, they just want to have that kind of lifestyle the social media narrates. You are not a loser if you are not doing entrepreneurship. If you are happy with whatever you are doing, that's a success. Don't need to blindly follow the crowd. Doing entrepreneurship just for the sake of doing it and making huge money is not worth it. If you are really solving a problem then it's a worthy one.

You are not living your life:

Maybe this is a correct statement in most cases. A job can only fill your pockets, not your soul. I also have a strong belief in this. But what about someone extremely happy at his job. We never talk about that perspective on social media. The meaning of hustle is not limited to entrepreneurship only. Anyway, anything we do or anywhere we work, the first thing we have to keep in mind is the quality of life we are going to have. Being at a high-paying job won't guarantee a happy life. Similarly, a million or billion dollars per month won't guarantee a happy life either. Go for anything which keeps you happy, gives you a sense of fulfillment, and provides an opportunity to improve yourself. Stop running after the crowd, following the social narratives, and not following your heart. Life will be awesome.


Wearing a t-shirt with ‘Stay humble, hustle hard” written on it won't make you anything. Your work does. However, it's no bad to follow the hustle culture. But the problem is with the blind following. Find your IKIGAI, and work really hard to make it happen. That will justify the real meaning of hustle.

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Feb 10, 2023

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