Leah Stallings Photography, LLC | Hustling for Joy
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Hustling for Joy

Hustling for Joy

I don’t love the word hustle as I see it often being used in today’s society. I do not buy into the idea that a person’s self worth and value is based of what they accomplish, what they don’t accomplish, or the fullness of their schedule. This was not always the case. For years it made me uncomfortable when friends would say things like, “Wow! You are so busy! Look how successful your business has become.” Now, please understand that I have some of the world’s kindest friends and they did nothing wrong by making this comment. Their words were not the problem. The problem was that I had so much of my self worth wrapped up in being busy. Afraid to sit in the silence.

In fact, I couldn’t even figure out what left me so unsettled. It took me a lot of time and introspection to discover that it wasn’t the words that left me so uncomfortable, however, it was the fact that deep down I knew there was a problem with living the way that I was; the way that I still do some days. But I am learning to afford myself grace because this is a learning process, a way of thinking that I picked up somewhere along the line in my childhood.

Somewhere during my childhood, I can’t be exactly sure where, I caught on to the idea that if I did something people liked I would be praised or rewarded. I guess I liked that feeling because at an early age I learned to jam my schedule with so many interests, so many hobbies, so many things that I loved to do. I think it was the beginning of the “you can be everything and do everything” movement that is still ongoing today. It seems that there was one important detail that gets left out of that statement and that is the words NOT ALL AT ONCE. You don’t have to do it all right now and be it all right now to be worth the love the universe has to offer you.

During my teenage years, and into my adulthood, I wanted to do it all, I wanted to be it all, I wanted to be perfect. I was up before the sun for dance practice at 5:30 in the morning, from there went to  student council meetings, followed by school, music lessons, work, then social life or sporting events, then studying…and when time allowed it, sleep. All of these were healthy wonderful activities that I feel blessed to have learned from however somewhere in my mind the idea formed that these accomplishments or activities created my worth. The thoughts formed that if I wasn’t Leah the dancer, Leah the violist, or Leah the class president that somehow that meant I wasn’t anything of value.  So what would happen if I didn’t hustle to do it all, be it all, or fit in one more activity…in my warped adolescent mind that would mean that I wasn’t enough, that I was somehow less worthy. And thinking like that doesn’t just go away, it followed me into adulthood.

After talking openly with friends about my struggles, their struggles, and the struggles of our children I learned that I was far from being alone. I also learned that the struggles the hustle for perfection create can be extremely severe and include side affects like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. As an adult women I feel the pressure to look perfect, have the perfect clean house, the perfect children, the perfect marriage…the list goes on and on. It is something that I am learning to let go of. Why? Because that is not the message that I want my children to hear. I do not want my children to grow up thinking that they have to produce for self worth. I want my children to hear the message that they are loved and valued for who they are in this moment. I want the next generation to know that it isn’t the grades, the medals, or the accolades that make them important. They are already of infinite value and nothing they do will change that.

Too often in this busy world full of comparison we strive so hard to do it all and be everything for everyone that we forget, or rather, forget how to be ourselves. We lose sight, or at least I did, of the fact that no matter who we are or what we accomplish we are all worthy just as we are. I really appreciate this quote by Anna Quindlen that says,

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

Instead of hustling for perfection I am choosing to hustle for joy.