Confession: I never have been and probably never will be a “hustler.” And I’m perfectly okay with that. According to Google, the definition of a hustler is “an aggressively enterprising person; a go-getter.” I am definitely a go-getter, but there is nothing “aggressive” or “enterprising” about me.
I used to think there was something wrong with me. I’d think: “Melina, why can’t you just stay up all night and study for that exam,” or “Melina, how come you don’t have even the slightest desire to stay late at the office to finish up that project.” I’ve come to the conclusion that I am just not a natural-born hustler, and I actually don’t want to be.
Well, I used to want to be a hustler. Whenever I’d run out of bandwidth to do something, I’d call myself lazy and uncommitted when I knew for a fact those things were not true. I mean, somehow I was able to get through 4 years of undergrad, 2 years of graduate school and graduate summa cum laude both times without ever once pulling an all-nighter. I really should get an award for that. I can only think of one time when I was at the library studying until 1am because I didn’t start studying until 9pm (really atypical for me).
Those two degrees definitely came with a lot of fear, tears, long study sessions, doubt, and gray hair. I’ve always had at least two jobs while in school, but sleep was still my BFF. Being able to work efficiently and manage my time really well is probably the one true gift I have. Don’t get me wrong, I work VERY hard and I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist (there are good and bad things about this). I am also super hard on myself and I’m exhausted at the end of the day from spending a great deal of my brainpower.
Even after being done with school, I’m still not a hustler, yet I’ve been able to score wonderful employment opportunities and even won awards at work for my innovative solutions to complex problems. I MAYBE stay late at the office every once in a blue moon. If I do stay late, you better believe I ain’t staying past 6 or 7pm. I say all of this not to brag (okay, maybe a little), but to say that I didn’t need to run myself into the ground to be successful.
The reason I’m so okay with NOT being a hustler is that I am definitely one thing that has brought me most of my success: a strategist. Melina is my name and strategy is my game. I have this keen ability to see the big picture for any situation. I’m also a master forecaster. I mean, I don’t have a crystal ball or anything, but I’m able to look at a situation from a bird’s eye view: backward and forward, top to bottom. I play out all of the possible scenarios in my mind that I can think of (I’m well aware that this is a symptom of mild anxiety, by the way), choose the one that makes the most sense, and execute.
That’s pretty much how I’ve been able to win at this life so far–by being methodical in my approach, carefully planning, and executing one piece at a time. I pride myself on my seemingly effortless efficiency. People think I skate through life because I make things look easy, but really, I just plan effectively. I chose my major in nuclear medicine technology because I knew I’d get a great paying job right after graduating college and I could work while I went to grad school. I chose public health for my master’s program because I’m practical and wanted to expand my knowledge in healthcare and wellness without the fuss of becoming a doctor. I’ve carefully curated my career thus far to include project management and data analysis—valuable skills that are highly transferrable and sought after.
I’ve gotten this far by strategizing and being careful about it—not by hustling. In my mind, hustling feels chaotic and like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something will stick. I’m too practical and tactful for that. I need to have plans A-Z. With a little hard work and strategy, I’m golden.
I really do admire and look up to hustlers. If you’re a hustler, I don’t know how you do it. I need my 8+ hours of sleep, my down time, and time to be selfish. I applaud you for being unstoppable! I have no interest in trying to emulate all that you do because we all have our roles (and I get tired easily), so I will stay in my lane!
Keep making things happen, hustlers. The world needs you to get out there to take risks and to take action. Are you a hustler, homie?