Lately, on X in particular, I’ve noticed a worrying trend: guys in their early 20s bragging about how they don’t take breaks, don’t spend time with loved ones, and do nothing but work nonstop. They call it a “flex,” proof of their dedication. But to me, it seems more like a sad cry for help.
Believe me, I understand the appeal of hustle culture. I once bought into the myth, too. The idea is that if you grind hard enough for long enough, you’ll “make it” and finally be able to enjoy life. But for most people, that day never comes. There’s always a new goal on the horizon, and contentment stays frustratingly out of reach.
I know because I’ve been there. I missed precious memories with my family and friends because I was obsessed with chasing career success. And I regret it deeply. Looking back now, those shared moments with the people I love meant so much more to me than anything I was working towards. But deep in the hustle culture, I was blind to what mattered.
I’ve also lost too many close friends at a young age to suicide and addiction. Friends I think of often and wish I could see again. If I got the chance, I’d tell them about the birthday parties, family vacations, nights out dancing, meals cooked together, and all the other amazing experiences I’ve had. The real texture of life. It's not mundane stuff like how many Twitter followers I have or clients I’ve landed.
I think societal pressure drives so many young men down this path. This outdated idea is that part of being a man is never stopping the hustle, never taking a break, always grinding to provide, and being the breadwinner financially. But constantly working doesn’t make you more of a man. It often has the opposite effect — burnout, depression, loneliness, and a nagging sense that you’re missing out on life.
In my early 20s, I completely bought into hustle culture. Being busy all the time made me important. I tied my self-worth to productivity and career advancement in toxic ways. I was disconnected from everything that mattered — my family, health, simple joys. My well-being took a backseat to work and superficial success.
And it nearly broke me. I still remember sitting alone in my home office late one night, crying from exhaustion and realizing I felt empty inside. No amount of professional success could fill the void of human connection and joy that I was missing out on.
At that moment, something shifted for me. I knew I had to make a change. I started reevaluating my priorities and questioning the nonstop grind mentality I’d adopted. When I thought about the moments I cherished most — it was never the raises or promotions. It was the memories with loved ones. The belly laughs over dinner. Family hikes on sunny days. Late-night conversations with close friends.
Those connections and experiences couldn’t be sacrificed in the name of hustle and success. They were the whole point of life.
You can choose balance, joy, and time with your loved ones over being “on” 24/7. You can work hard and still make space for the things that matter most.
It looks like committing to leaving work on time and taking regular days off, even when there’s more to do. It looks like my partner and I cooking dinner together and then eating out on the porch on warm evenings. It looks like taking my son to the park on Saturday morning instead of locking myself in the home office. Game nights with friends are marked on the calendar as a high priority, beating out any work meeting.
In other words, it looks like living life to the fullest — not letting it zoom by while I’m head down chasing the next milestone.
I’m writing this because I know firsthand how seductive hustle culture can be, especially for young men seeking purpose and success. But it often leads to burnout and regret. I don’t want that for you.
You deserve balance. You deserve joy and great relationships. You deserve to disconnect, rest, and recharge. You deserve to do small things because they delight you, not because they’re productive. You deserve time for laughter and memories with people who matter to you. Those are the real treasures in life.
If I could talk to my younger self, or any young person drawn in by hustle culture — this is what I would say:
Don’t buy the myth that you must hustle 24/7 to deserve a fulfilling life. Find work you care about. But also make time for play. Cultivate deep and meaningful relationships. Make memories that you’ll still smile at years later. Take care of your mental and physical health. Disconnect and recharge regularly. Do things simply because they bring you joy.
In other words, work hard but also leave room for laughter. Keep dreaming big, but also make time to appreciate the present moment. Live fully, love authentically, and always remember what matters most. That’s real success to me — not the grind or the hustle.
Life is so, so fucking precious and so fleeting. Don’t sacrifice the best parts chasing smoke and mirrors. If all you do is work, you’ll miss the moments and connections that make it all worthwhile.