I’ve been sitting on this piece for over a year mulling over whether it’s worthwhile writing or whether I should just let it lie and carry on with the journey. And even simply putting it in words now has taken revision after revision because the last thing I want is for this to sound negative or uninspiring.
Perhaps it’s just the community I’m so lucky to have found myself in, but you’d be hard pressed to find a creative soul that isn’t itching to start something that feels wholly them - if they haven’t already - but there is nothing quite glorious about the side hustle. Yes, it’s inspiring, it stirs a fire within you – after all, that’s why you started it. Maybe you’ve got a job that is fine, but within it you lack the autonomy to create or lead. Whatever it is, many a success story finds itself in the pages of Elle or published on the POPSUGAR’s of the world, because the founder felt something was missing. Maybe they hated their corporate job and were painting in the evenings because they were searching for a creative outlet. In almost every story, they felt something so strongly they couldn’t ignore it – they weren’t playing a tug-o-war, their passion was clear (albeit not without challenges and troubles). You get a snippet within these pages, summarised into a neat little package to make for digestible reading but what’s missing is the internal struggle that really amplifies the success.
I thought, I’d love to read a story about someone whose hustle didn’t start this way, because I felt perfectly fulfilled in my career, but I’d developed skills during my time there that I thought I could use to add value to the business. So, then for me it developed as a hobby (like so many side hustles do). But in the evenings, I was commuting home brainstorming ideas for my ‘9 – 5’ and picking up emails in the ‘PM’ because I had an idea I wanted to make happen now. I felt inspired and excited, so I’d work on this when I really should have been pitching out to potential content clients, writing a little more or planning shoots for the weekend to make my life a little easier. But I couldn’t stop - my side hustle was inevitably founded as a way to add value to my position in my workplace at the time and to provide them with something more. Rather than as an outlet for me to explore, it was a way to build my resume.
I didn’t start my side hustle because my career left me uninspired. I wasn’t stuck in a cubicle I hated, with colleagues that didn’t understand – quite the opposite really. But my side hustle grew organically out of those walls. The more work I did, the more visibility I had, the more brands started reaching out, but I loved my job, so I felt stuck – I struggled to give time to my side projects when I could have been working on something for my job and vice versa.
The thing with being surrounded by wonderful people is that they always want to help – ‘ why don’t you do this’, ‘you should try this’, ‘here email this person’ – recommendations that would be any hustlers dream but I couldn’t help feel that I was failing at both avenues because I couldn’t commit to either and the expectations were fostering a level of anxiety within me that I hate to recall.
But the truth was they couldn’t work simultaneously when the job I loved was absorbing all the creative energy I could give and my side hustle was simply a means to an end at that time. Having a side hustle isn’t a requirement of a successful career, it’s not a buzzword, or something you need to be a #girlboss. And you certainly shouldn’t start one because you think it’s a requirement but if it lights a fire within you it’s worth exploring and letting it lead you.
I hope you realise you can pivot and change your goals any time you like, you can soak up all the goodness of your corporate job if it brings you joy, or you can draw until your heart is content, be driven by your own expectations, not those of others (however well-meaning) and be guided by what stirs your soul.