I’ve now worked full-time in digital marketing for 5 years. Largely, I really enjoy what I do and I work hard at it. I’m passionate about ethical marketing and working with small businesses. I get to write for a living on a range of different topics and I’ve learned so much from working with all different levels of businesses. It’s been, for the most part, a real joy and a great education.
However, it’s somewhat disorienting being so passionate about what I do because I feel disconnected from a lot of the industry. I don’t believe in “hustle”, I don’t believe you should eat, breathe and live what you do. In fact, I think being away from your work for periods of time makes you better at it. I don’t really post about what I do because as much as I love social media, I still feel that my job ought to be separate. My work should speak for itself, no snazzy captions or 5am Instagram posts necessary. Whenever I do find myself working all hours and living my job, I’m in a bad place. I’ve taken on too much. I don’t understand romanticising this because it leads to burnout. It leads to physical and mental unwellness. It’s nothing to aspire to and I believe we have to move past this kind of rhetoric.
This disconnect is felt because marketing gurus like Gary Vaynerchuck ask if you’re willing to bleed out your eyeballs for your dream. I don’t agree with this mentality! I don’t believe this is how dreams work! I don’t think you have to put yourself through mental torture in order to achieve your dreams. I don’t believe it has to feel like torture. The destination is non-existent. Creatives always push for more, we’re always looking for the next adventure. This means that, for me, treating the journey like something that has to be suffered through, as opposed to enjoyed, is counter-intuitive.There is no destination, in my mind. Just a continuous journey. There is an idea in marketing and digital in general that in order to succeed, to enjoy what you do, you must do all of this. You must live it. You must let it destroy you.
For a long time, I felt like I was alone in my assertions and that this meant I didn’t really like what I did or, worse, I wasn’t good at it. This is partly, of course, due to my own imposter syndrome but it was also due to working in an industry that celebrates living what you do. Until I got talking to a couple of friends who also work in this industry and feel as I do; passionate but tired and keen to ensure that their lives don’t revolve around work. Critical of the mantras that we’re so often told. We felt quite bitter and negative towards an industry that we’d initially been excited to be a part of. We wanted to explore why so many of us feel the urge to prove ourselves so hard, why the industry feels like it demands hustle and what we do personally to reject these ideals. In fact, my friend Steven wrote only last week about rejecting hustle.
Eventually, we decided (of course!) to do a podcast. A podcast called Quit Your Job that we’ve described as being “anti-hustle for the burnout generation”, quite fittingly. It’s funny, it’s snarky, it’s bitter and at times, it’s even hopeful. Our first episode with illustrator Jocasta Mann is out now and I really hope you listen and enjoy, it’s available in most places you’d usually find podcasts including iTunes and Spotify.
I’ve started to embrace rest, separate creative projects and enjoying life outside of what I do. There is still lingering guilt but I’m working to rewire my approach to work and rest. I think it makes me a better worker, a better friend, a better creative but most importantly, I think it makes me calmer and happier. Which is all I’m really looking for.