Side hustle not lifestyle to applaud

By Breanne Williams, COLUMNIST
On March 29, 2017

Millennials are being applauded for picking up multiple jobs, when really it is reflective of a broken economy. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Success. 

It’s what every person has dreamed of in America. Previous generations viewed the American dream as a house, white picket fence and a family. Millennials simply dream of receiving a decent job in their field. 

We’ve grown up in the Great Recession; we have no delusions about the state of the economy. We accepted years ago we would simply work multiple jobs to survive. And we do. More than a third of millennials have a side job, according to a 2016 survey by CareerBuilder.

But this lifestyle, the “side hustle,” isn’t something that should be celebrated, as is a growing trend among advertisers. 

Lyft bragged about one of their drivers continuing to pick up ride requests while she was in labor, prioritizing the average $11 drivers make per ride over her need for medical care.  

Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace, spearheaded an entire campaign called “In Doers We Trust.” 

One of its ads in New York’s subways said, “You eat a coffee for lunch. You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

There are podcasts, books and blogs all dedicated to praising the “side hustle” and offering tips on how to juggle the gig job, a main job and other responsibilities like school or family. 

A 2016 study of those who graduated from 2009-13 in MarketWatch found 45 percent of college graduates worked a “non-college job,” which is any position where less than half of those in the job need a bachelor’s degree. 

Low-skilled jobs — baristas, waitresses, cashiers, etc. — that average a salary of $23,584 annually, accounted for 19.3 percent of underemployed graduates. 

Obviously, such low paying jobs are not enough to live off of, especially if you have student loan payments to meet monthly. Hence, the need for at least one side job.

And despite our growing economy, millennials are still more disadvantaged than previous genera tions. Pew Research Center compared generations and found 6 percent of millennial college graduates lived in poverty in 2013, double the 3 percent of Baby Boomers who lived in poverty in 1979. 

To survive, graduates are turning to unconventional forms of work. Driving for Lyft or Uber, freelancing for businesses, making Etsy accounts and settling for side jobs at Starbucks and American Eagle. 

They pitch themselves to everyone they meet in hopes of a job opportunity and will work themselves into exhaustion to make rent. 

The American Psychological Association found people between the ages of 18 to 33 are overwhelmed with anxiety. Over 50 percent reported being kept up all night recently due to “overwhelming worries.”

Millennials are tired. Tired of failing to live up to impossible expectations. Tired of going days with little to no sleep. Tired of being so stressed out we literally become mentally ill. 

And we’re tired of people acting like our struggle is something to celebrate. 

We shouldn’t have to consume a “coffee for lunch” and have sleep deprivation as our “drug of choice.” Don’t applaud the fact that millennials have found a way to survive in this society, even if it means running ourselves ragged. 

We don’t want to work ourselves to death, and advertising a business or product by pitching our exhaustion as a fun lifestyle choice is degrading. 

This isn’t a fate anyone would choose. Instead of using this reality for self-promotion, society should focus on finding a way to remedy it.

Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications. 

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