Questioning the Hustle
I've fallen into some social media redundancy traps. Obsessing over productivity, bombarding my posts with recent accomplishments both large & small, touting my perspective and viewpoint while constantly comparing myself to others in my field. I try to make my online persona as kick-ass as possible, reaching for engagement and validation from groups of people doing precisely the same thing...
The more I obsess over being "productive", the more the "telling" of it becomes the most recognizable act in my communication chain. Once people do take notice, with shares & likes & conversation, it sparks a chain reaction, feeding an inflated sense of self-worth until I'm no longer sure if I'm proud of my work or caught up in the way it may be received on social media. Recognition currency often feels more important than even my accomplishments, and while I pat myself on the back for conquering every minor hurdle in my career journey, I often ignore the steps it takes to get me where I'm going. I get lost in the hustle.
So, am I doing things or am I spending time saying I'm doing things?
Self-promotion is a big part of the actor game, but it's really the how and why that's been on my mind, especially as they relate to my own industry. I know I need to share my work, get my name out there, and promote what I do. Plus? I really enjoy getting together with other voiceover talent, producers, and industry people. I also love what I do, and spend a lot of time practicing. Go to a conference, break into a genre, work with a new coach, release a new demo. I'm here for all of it, but this showing off what I'm doing part is still rough.
If I'm not hustling just like everyone else, there's a sharp pull toward feeling like I'm wrong. Scrolling online feeds, I find variations of Be the BEST! Win at all costs! Never show weakness! Always be Positive! Fake it till you Make it!
Everyone appears to be doing incredible! And my stomach sinks because my own accomplishments pale next to this steady stream of AWESOME, while I hurry to catch up to the latest trend in a fast-moving game. I join new social networks, post my shit all over the place, and feel better for a day or two. Trouble is, as long as I'm feeling comparative and inadequate, it's easy to become addicted to being my "best self" rather than my true self. The true self that actually books work, connects with clients, and struggles with the day-to-day aspects of voice over, just like everyone else. The true self who puts in the hours, does the work, and rarely gets the proper credit. The guy who wears sweatpants and really needs a haircut right now...the "not-ready-for-Instagram" Christian. That guy's an artist, and vulnerable as hell.
Hustle culture is obsessed with striving, relentlessly positive, devoid of humor, and — once you notice it — impossible to escape. New media upstarts glorify ambition not as a means to an end, but as a lifestyle. - Erin Griffith
So here's what I know
I work consistently. I experiment, fail and try again. Sometimes things are slow and the gaps do lead to self doubt, questioning of the creative process, fear of failure, etc.
I'm not failing. This is humanity, and I'm not a robot yet.
Griffith, E. (2020). Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/26/business/against-hustle-culture-rise-and-grind-tgim.html [Accessed 2 Jan. 2020].
The Personal Philosophy Project. YouTube, (2019). Rejecting Hustle Culture. 17 Dec 2019. Accessed 2 Jan. 2020