Dying to the Hustle
Written by Ashley Hobbs for The Bronze Hustle
I look at the scar that extends from just above my navel to just below my torso and I thank God for the close call. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? To thank God for almost dying. But I do, almost everyday.
It saved me.
On September 15th at 3 in the morning, I underwent a laparotomy due to endometriosis of the colon. It’s not incredibly common. The doctors couldn’t exact the reason it happened but all signs pointed to severe stress. I had symptoms for over two years but postponed doctor visits. I didn’t have health insurance for a while. And I took jobs that owned my time completely.
So, almost two years of stress, grief, and anxiety had twisted up sections of my colon and small intestine like pretzels.
From June 2017 to January 2018, I lived and worked in the DMV. I had moved away from home to build a life that looked good. A job at an ever-scaling education company, a beautiful apartment, perfectly posed Instagram photos, brunches with friends.
I wanted to be the best at what I did even though after a couple of months, I didn’t even believe in what I was doing anymore. I knew I was supposed to be doing something else entirely. I hustled my hardest for this job. But the road was rocky. The days were grueling. I was not having fun. I did not feel like I belonged. Something wasn’t right and I was unsure of how to keep it from being wrong. What if this great salary, beautiful new place, this life I thought I wanted was snatched away from me as it’d seemed many good things in my life had been taken away? I was motivated by fear more than anything and it was taking a toll.
It consumed me. I woke in the night to panic attacks, terrified I’d forgotten to send that email or run this report. I went in early and stayed late. In the end, it wasn’t enough.
In January 2018, I was fired. The reasons were vague and bogus (I had access to the information they claimed they were using as their reasoning for firing me). I wept and paced and prayed and mourned the loss. I was embarrassed because just like that, what I feared most came to pass. The “perfect” veneer I had worked to build had been snatched away.
I recognized a tragic and devastating flaw I had actively lived my entire life. I cared more to hustle for others’ acceptance than I believed in and worked toward my calling and life assignment.
Too often we work to prove we belong. To prove we’re worthy. To move up a ladder we never really wanted to climb. My ladder being kicked from under me and the subsequent fall left me thinking deeply about how and who I wanted be when I got up.
When what you’re trying to accomplish pulls you away from joy and fills you with fear, it’s either not for you or you’ve chosen to go about it the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. Living well is measured by the moments that don’t always make it to Instagram and the accomplishments that light up your life regardless of whether anyone else gives high praise. It took a termination and a surgery for me to truly understand but the reward has been tremendous and freeing.
Hustling in its traditional sense has lost its appeal. It came at too high a cost and with little to no return on investment. I’ve died to it and chosen a completely different way of life. My focus is now on creating honestly, consistently, and from a place of abundance not from a fear of lack. Where there is balance, creativity, exploration, growth, impartation, and wellness - there I’ll be.
About the Author
Ashley is a writer and producer passionate about honest and nuanced storytelling. She creates written, audio, and visual content & experiences that encourage, inform, connect and evoke. Ashley writes and produces original audio content with ABF Creative; produces the Black Film Space Podcast, and writes for digital outlets like Faithfully Magazine & xoNecole. Check out her work at www.ashleyjh.com.