Monday, November 17, 2014

It's Not You, It's Me (Hustle Edition)

I didn't mean for Wednesday's post to be a cop-out.  Honestly, I thought that it - the second paragraph in particular - could stand on its own.  But you don't let me off that easily, dear readers, and so I'm back to re-enter the conversation about what "hustle" means to each of us.

However, I want to offer a disclaimer before I say anything else.  (This is part of the reason I didn't publish any of my original drafts on the subject; I'm a huge proponent of disclaimer-free blogging!)  But here goes anyway:

My understanding of "hustle" has much more to do with me than it does with the people who use the word/concept, even if they are, in fact, using it in the way I understand it.  There are plenty of people - people I respect and admire - who identify with the descriptors I'll use below who don't use it in the way I read it.  And for the people who do... well, it's my choice to follow them on social media, and I have the power to stop following them.

The other disclaimer, especially for those who are relatively new to Betsy Transatlantically, is that I have a desk job and I love it, and sometimes I get tetchy about what seems like an overwhelming consensus from lifestyle bloggers that the be-all and end-all is entrepreneurship.  (I actually blogged about this exact thing two years ago and the follow up to that post, published in October 2012, turns out to presage this one a bit.)

So, admitting a great deal of insecurity and a tendency to overreact, I will tell you that when 20- and 30-something women who own their own businesses or are building a freelance portfolio talk about "hustling," I hear judgement.  I hear, "I work harder than people who have bosses and timesheets and commutes and offices that are outside their homes because there is no barrier between my personal life and my professional life like there is for you.  My work is more important to my livelihood than yours is because my income depends entirely on my imagination and my ambition, and you don't need to have either of those things to draw a salary.  I can't satisfy my innate need to create if I don't do something new and exciting every minute of every day, but you are just a cog in the wheel and you don't have to be innovative to feel fulfilled.  Hustling makes me special, and you don't need to hustle so you aren't special."

I told you this has more to do with me and my own hang-ups than it does with the people who use the word "hustle" to describe what they do, didn't I?  Because of course all that is ridiculous.  I work hard, my job demands creativity, my professional identity is intertwined with my personal identity, and there aren't a lot of people out there who could (or would want to) do what I do.  I know that.  I do.  But when millennials who freelance and/or work from home talk about their hustle, I bristle.

Yikes.  I'm a little embarrassed to have admitted all of this.  But there it is, dear readers.  That's what I hear.  Feel free to tell me I'm being absurd - or, if you didn't last week, tell us in the comments what you understand when you hear "hustle" in a contemporary non-athletic context!  I think I need a reality check.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Penguins and Chocolate for Christmas

Christmas adverts are a unique phenomenon to the UK - there really isn't anything like them in the States.  Since they don't celebrate Thanksgiving across the pond, there isn't an event in the calendar to formally kick off the holiday season, and fervor starts building in early November.  I've already gotten an email about the opening of the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and my friends on Instagram are posting photos of London in its full twinkly glory.  The real launch, though, at least commercially, are the Christmas adverts that the major department stores and grocery stores put out.

Jon calls it a competition; every ad tries to make viewers sob without making them feel like they're being manipulated.  Of course, every ad is selling a brand along with the story and, often, a specific product that's created solely for the purpose of the ad.  Case in point: the penguin in the John Lewis advert below costs £95 and sold out within days of the advert's launch.  And every hour Sainsbury's sells 5,000 of the chocolate bars featured in its advert, which benefit the British Legion.  There's a fine line between cynical commercialism and sentimentality - Jon mocks both of the below ads mercilessly, but they make me weep.  How about you, dear readers?  Do you feel played, like Jon does, or are you moved?