Growing up, many of us may have been led to believe that our work was our life. That we had to give our blood, sweat and tears for the promise of professional success. To lay all our hopes and dreams under the guillotine of capitalism to be sacrificed or spared at the whim of higher powers. However, where does hustle culture lie for those whose true dream is domestic bliss and parenthood? But before we get ahead of ourselves, you may be wondering: What is 'hustle culture'? Well, if you ask your standard English dictionary, hustle means to cheat or swindle i.e. hustling for money. A sister terminology, 'grind culture' has similar connotations. The word grind literally means hard, dull work taken from the phrase 'the daily grind'. Hustle culture at its core is a toxic mentality originally peddled by extremely privileged Westerners who were born into wealth. Influencers and celebrities urging youths to build their careers, start businesses, make more money, etc. All at the expense of their physical and mental wellbeing. If you\u2019re working multiple jobs, you may actually already be a victim of hustle culture and not even know it. Rise and Grind: Workaholism in a Nutshell According to Industrial and Organisational Psychologist Assoc Prof Dr Hazalizah, 'hustle culture' or 'grind culture' is not new. \u201cIt is just a more trendy term to represent workaholism. Both terms indicate working compulsively, excessively hard and for long hours, which bring harmful effects in terms of their mental and physical health, apart from destroying relationships.\u201d - Industrial and Organisational Psychologist Assoc Prof Dr Hazalizah In the West, this usually translates to having a side business (or 'side hustle', which may have been where the term 'hustle culture' originated from) or multiple extra sources of income. But hustle culture isn\u2019t just about juggling multiple jobs. It can be as simple as overperforming at your current full-time job. Clocking in more hours, taking in more responsibilities, chasing promotions, trying to impress your boss, etc. 'Side hustlers' also tend to have a superiority complex. They may be found bragging about how they work 50 plus hours a week like it\u2019s a badge of honour. This then starts a vicious cycle of guilt, prompting other people to follow in the same pursuit. According to Human Resource expert, Srithren Krishnan, the hustle culture has its fair share of pros and cons: \u201cThe core of this mentality is that \u2018if you work hard enough, you will become successful earlier in life\u2019. The more successful you are, the more powerful and cash-rich you are. Business people would like to become millionaires before the age of 40 and retire early to enjoy their wealth. Be that as it may, the hustle culture increases stress, challenges work-life balance and even strains personal relationships." So, if this is your goal, perhaps it\u2019s time to reconsider. Do you really want to miss birthdays, vacations, anniversaries, dance recitals and school holidays, just to make an extra buck or two? Your job may be your livelihood, but it is no substitute for family (even if your boss may or may not advertise it as such). A Generation on the Brink of Burnout As hustle culture is slowly phasing out in favour of quiet quitting (doing what you\u2019re paid to do), Malaysia is cultivating its own cult of productivity. You\u2019ll see many people advocating for the acquisition of passive income, multiple investments, and weekend ventures. Probably the easiest, most common and sought-after side hustle in Malaysia is being a Grab driver. You\u2019re likely to find many young executives fulfilling e-hailing services for the common folk over the weekend\u2014all for the sake of earning a few crumbs. But the question remains, why are we working so hard? Our parents never used to and they were able to afford a fairly good life. So, what exactly is the truth? It\u2019s no rumour that cost of living is rising, but we also see a lot of people going for lavish overseas vacations. Are we chasing survival or decadence? Sure, having some extra money is fine, but the endeavour does not come without personal consequences. You may end up sacrificing your health, hobbies, marriage, and even sleep. You may even end up suffering at your regular day job \u201cHowever, hustle culture may not necessarily lead to professional burnout as there are three dimensions to this \u2013 emotional exhaustion, cynicism or depersonalisation and reduced personal efficacy,\u201d said Dr Hazalizah. But even if you do enjoy working (for some reason), this doesn't mean your personal life is safe. If you\u2019re a young parent, or really just a parent, you\u2019d be sacrificing precious time you could otherwise spend with your family. And even if you aren't a parent, you may be sacrificing precious time with your loved ones\u2014no amount of money in the world is worth doing so. The Proof in the Pudding The hustle culture isn't just some urban legend; it's the lived experiences of many people, either by choice or otherwise. And the fact that people have to juggle various jobs just to make ends meet or to maintain lavish lifestyles, is not an economic miracle. It's failure of the system. According to a 2019 survey, \u201cMalaysian employees are overworked, and sleep deprived, with 51 per cent suffering from at least one dimension of work-related stress as well as 53 per cent getting less than seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.\u201d These work-related health conditions are primarily the result of a sedentary lifestyle spent staring at a computer screen. Weight gain, eyestrain and stiff neck are just some of the 'perks' of being egregiously overworked. Another survey showed that 66 per cent of Malaysian knowledge workers take on a secondary source of income to alleviate financial pressures caused by the rising cost of living and ongoing economic challenges. However, they also saw this extra workload as a positive experience. Is this good work ethic, or more self-delusion? Work Hard, Play Harder: Striking the Right Balance Entrepreneurship is never not commendable. Starting a business, managing your finances, all while juggling a 9-to-5? It will definitely make others contemplate about whether they\u2019re doing enough with their 24 hours. If the hustle\/grind culture is for you and you thrive under all that productivity, then it\u2019s fine. But it\u2019s important not to guilt-trip others into following in your footsteps. What's right for you may not be so for others, and vice versa. It\u2019s also important to recognise that many people may not have a choice but to juggle multiple jobs; just for the sake of making ends meet. Our ability to opt out of the grind culture may come from a place of privilege. But there is also value in prioritising personal time; striking a good work-life balance is key. Savour the tender moments and small pleasures. Remember, life is short. So, let\u2019s not spend what\u2019s left of it needlessly trapped behind a desk, mummies. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!