Yes, it is true— it takes the earth 24 hours to spin once on its axis, and we all experience time in relatively the same way. But, that scientific fact has nothing to do with how many hours a person can keep to themselves and how many hours one must sell as labor to survive.
When someone says, “You have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé,” what they’re doing is selling you on a false narrative. They’re priming you to buy their next book. And the acknowledgment of privilege does not a best seller make.
Someone commented and said, 'You're privileged AF' and I was like, 'You're right. I'm super freaking privileged, but also I worked my ass off to have the money to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets’ — Rachel Hollis
Walking the tightrope
Freelancing is a tightrope walk. It’s a metaphor applicable to everyone in the game. But, the difference between, say, a Rachel Hollis or a Gary Vee and the average aspiring entrepreneur is what happens when you fall off the rope — is there a safety net waiting to catch you, or will you fall to your metaphorical death?
And that’s what’s frustrating about hustle culture on the Internet. Influencers let us in on their balancing acts, but it’s a skewed perspective. They point to the camera with arms wide open, shaming us for not hopping on our ropes, too. The whole while, never panning down to reveal they’re a foot off the ground.
Yes, Rachel Hollis and Gary Vee and all these other hustle culture idols have worked hard to get where they are. But when they fell from their ropes (and best believe they did fall, multiple times), they had a Disney executive spouse or a wine mogul parent to pick them up and dust them off. The average person who consumes their content can’t afford to fall, not even once. When you hide your safety nets, you mislead your followers into thinking hard work is the only thing that can save you.
Why do this? Why not be honest with us about where their safety nets were? That would surely help us find our own, whatever it may be. It’s because safety nets aren’t sexy, and they can’t be sold to you. Gary Vee isn’t going to let you crash on his couch until you land your first client. Rachel Hollis won’t give you a gap loan until you get your first check.
You can’t write a “how to get rich” book that tops the NYT bestseller list if chapter 1 is “Ask dad for a big loan.”
Find your safety nets
When I started Pixel Riot, I was 32 years old. I had $8,000 saved from my corporate job, which lasted me about four months. When I ran out of money, my dad offered to let me live in the basement he converted into a studio apartment. It was a humbling experience to be back in my parents’ home as an adult. My dad also lent me some money to pay my bills. It wasn’t a quarter-million-dollar loan from my trust fund, but it bought me some time. And time, it turns out, is the difference between scrolling through the job classifieds and building a business. Time is a privilege not afforded to everyone.
It took me over a year to land my first big client. If I did not have my dad as a safety net, I would’ve had no choice but to look for a job once my savings ran out. That would’ve been a shame because Pixel Riot is now one of my most significant accomplishments. I’m proud of the work I’ve done. More over, I’m grateful for having parents who believed in me enough to lend me money from their life’s savings (a loan I happily paid back with my first big check).
If you want to be a freelancer, or entrepreneur, know where your safety nets are located— it’s different for everyone. Who can you live with while you find your footing? Are there grants available to you? Assume you will fall off the rope from time to time and account for what that means to your situation. And then, yes, feel free to work your ass off.
But whatever you do, hide your wallets when someone on the Internet suggests we all have the same 24 hours but, in the same breath, brags about not having to clean their own toilets.