The Toxic Reality Of Competition and Hustle Culture

Competition. Defined as ‘the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others.’ The dreaded C word. We wake up, go about our days, and then go onto social media and see… a girl has a car at 20. A man bought a house at 25. A single mother has graduated with a first class while successfully building her side hustle from the bottom up. Wow. Nowadays social media has conditioned people’s minds into being envious about other people’s successes instead of celebrating them. What a shame. 

During my Mum’s birthday, my Aunties started to talk about the “process” of competition; people seeing someone else’s success, and wanting that for themselves, but in an unhealthy manner. It sets unrealistic expectations and comparison. The main thing I got from the conversation was this: why hustle and grind for people you either don’t know or don’t like to see your achievements? Why buy things you can’t afford to pose for an Instagram photo that people will like, scroll past and forget about? You don’t need to be in competition with anyone. Setting expectations that you can’t reach will only lead you to ruin. 

Coming from a Ghanaian household, I’m no stranger to the world of competition. From young I’ve gotten “why haven’t you done this like this girl?” My mum (God bless her) always directed me to be like my older cousin. This annoyed me at the time, however, I see the purpose in it now. It wasn’t that she thought I wasn’t enough, rather that I should look to my cousin as an example. This experience is not the same for everybody and can cause major upsets in households and create unhealthy standards. The stereotype in some traditional households is this: be a Doctor, an Engineer, or a Lawyer. It itches their bodies to hear if you want to do something else. Considering the fact my father is a designer and my mother is a nurse but encourages me in my field, this was astounding to me. I never knew about these expectations in my culture, and I soon found them out the hard way. 

University opened a lot of eyes for me. Coming into university as a Black artist is unusual, and it’s been met with hostilities. I went to the library and I was asked by someone “did you just come to University to draw?” The first time hearing a question like this I wanted to cry. Coming from a predominantly White school for my A Levels, being an artist was normal. To come to University and be seen as a “weirdo” because I’m not doing Law, Physics or Engineering was very disheartening. What made it worse was that it came from another Black person. 

For me, when I feel down (and in general) I turn to God. The second thing I do is watch encouraging videos. This introduced me to hustle culture. I’m sure we’ve all heard of hustle culture before; the videos where a person is saying comments like “wake up at 5am every day”, or “real hustlers grind while others sleep”. Hustle culture, according to Maize Magazine, is “a trend where people believe that the most important aspect of life is to achieve professional goals by relentlessly and continuously working hard.” The YouTuber Adella Afadi made an insightful video named; “I don’t want to work THAT hard| Hustle Culture”, highlighting its toxicity. I’d highly recommend you to watch that video, as this is what inspired me to write this article. What I learned is that there needs to be a healthy balance. This is ironic coming from a workaholic who, at this part of the article, is writing at the midnight of a Friday. Hustle culture videos and the agenda of hustle culture can be described in one word: toxic. 

I’ve noticed there’s an invisible line this generation is running towards, and once we cross it, we “win”. As soon as we go on social media, FOMO (the feeling of missing out) is inevitable. If we don’t reach milestones by a certain age we believe we haven’t achieved anything. Then when we don’t reach expectations, we believe we’re not good enough. This lie is being fed to us on the daily, and we need to pay more attention to it. Is obtaining all these temporary things worth it? Certainly not. We all have different gifts, and this should be celebrated. We are not meant to be the same, and that’s ok. Just imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was the same, with the same thought patterns and mannerisms. We are all individual and unique. Therefore, we must not worry about things that we cannot control. 

To conclude, Matthew 6:27 says that Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” From this, I understood that worrying about what other people think about you ultimately won’t profit you. Each day has enough tests and trials in this modern-day world. We don’t then need to make it harder for ourselves by adding unnecessary pressures and expectations we’re trying to reach for all the wrong reasons. 

Written by Aleida Hammond

Aleida is a member of The RealTalk Blogging Team. 
She is a freelance artist. Being a freelance artist entails many things, from being in charge of photoshoots to making portraits and digital commissions for clients. As well as this, Aleida is a first – year student studying at Loughborough University. 
She currently has commissions open on her business page. 
You can get in touch with Aleida directly via her platforms below


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