As I’ve moved from city to city throughout my life, with my own personal ups and downs, the one constant is the drive for more. The hustle is real, and seemingly for a good cause: we all want to be great, however we personally define that. And so the question is asked: what makes you great?
We must dare to be great, and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage. -Theodore Roosevelt
I love the above Theodore Roosevelt quote because so often we dream about being great, but then we pack up our desires and continue doing the same thing over and over again each day. Hustlers not only get up and go to work each day, but they find time in the evenings, on the weekends, whenever they can, to work towards their dreams. Hustlers understand toil and sacrifice.
When I lived in NYC, I was a freelancer in the film industry. Every day I would wake up and wonder if I would make money that day. Even when I had numerous contacts and previous experience at established companies, I was never guaranteed a full time position or even a day’s work. But I loved working in the industry, I loved my job, and I knew it would all be worth it in the end.
At first glance, the quote is all about struggle and sacrificing your life now for (hopefully) a better one in the future.
I have more than earned my right to be called a hustler, but I find that the more I actively hustle, the more I suffer. Because I continually pushed myself in both relationships and in career when I was living in NYC, my health suffered significantly. While I am mostly healthy today, I still have to carefully watch what I eat and monitor my stress levels so I don’t relapse.
I still love this quote. As I interpret this quote now, I see it to be much more about acceptance of self and mindset. Because I’ve packed up and moved across the country multiple times, because I’ve worked in the film industry, because I seemingly disregard traditional advice, it seems as if societal norms wouldn’t bother me, but it’s still an every day struggle because, like all humans, I still want to fit in and be part of the tribe. This can manifest in simple ways – for example, I just recently realized how guilty I felt that I wasn’t working a 40 hour week and that I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be “more productive” for no reason.
For me to be great each day means waking up and choosing life for myself, no one else. Choosing myself over everyone I love continues to be the most courageous act, and I choose it every single day. I start each day with meditation. I write, I knit, I design. While these are all activities I enjoy, choosing to start my day with them can be a chore. Sacrificing that external validation that we all hold so dear, whether we want to admit it or not, is one of the hardest things I do every day.
But because I mentally toil and sacrifice and make courageous choices strictly for my well being each morning, I am able to live a great life.
It sounds backwards to the way I’ve always lived my life, but because of these choices I make each day, and it sometimes still a difficult choice, I am able to truly live in each moment, and because I am clear and focused and have taken the time to care for myself first, I am now able to be an incredible friend to all of my loved ones.