Early in my career, I took a weird and absolutely unhealthy sense of pride in overworking myself to the brink of exhaustion. Heck, before I’d even finished my PR program I was working two part-time jobs as a single mom, plus writing on the side for the extra moolah. Looking back now, I’m actually not entirely sure how I survived it.
But, I’m not the only one.
It seems like most of my peers and many of my colleagues have (or have had) a side hustle – writing, waitressing, interior design, crafting, photography, whatever. There was even a point when, if asked how to get ahead in her career, I’d have told a young woman to get a side hustle.
A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to help other young moms who – like me – had decided to go back to school and create a new career path for themselves. Maybe, just maybe, I could give them the support they needed to cross that bridge. I still sometimes hear from these young women and one of the most common questions I get is should I have a side hustle?
My answer? Probably not – unless it’s really what you want or need.
Over the course of my career, I’ve learned that I just can’t be all things to all people. I can’t go 100 miles an hour without breaks (or brakes!) And, more importantly, I can’t focus all of my energy on my real job if I’m constantly distracted by or exhausted from my side hustle. For this reason, when I accepted my position at Introhive, I slowly began to sunset a lot of my side hustles.
Now, yes – I do still do work on the side. (I know, I know – guilty!) In fact, I kept on one client and decided I’d keep pitching the occasional influencer opportunity. Why? Because I’m not willing to juggle a bunch of side hustles that weren’t serving me anymore. The extra income just isn’t worth the stress, the exhaustion, or the missed moments with my family for me at this stage.
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re well on your way to carving out that path, having a side hustle is only worthwhile if it’s bringing you joy and serving you in a way that’s meaningful. My first side hustle barely paid me! I did it because I loved it and the experience was invaluable. But just because that was the case for me does not mean it’s the same for someone else.
There was also a long time in my career when my side hustle was absolutely critical to making ends meet every month and, even though I just wanted to relax at night or take a weekend off, I had to grind out my freelance work because I couldn’t miss out on that income.
At the end of the day, there’s no real right answer to the question Should I have a side hustle? If you’re looking to gain more experience, supplement your income, or you’re hoping to turn that side hustle into a full-time gig one day; if it’s bringing you joy – then go for it! But if you’re picking up (or maintaining) a side hustle because it feels like you “have to” to earn your street cred, let that shit go.