Lesson #4: Hustle, Then Flow

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For My Hustling Sisters…

I can’t control everything. And recently, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to control everything. Controlling everything takes an obsessive amount of time and energy that I would much prefer spending on activities that I enjoy, like going to the movies, writing books, or falling in love.

The Hustle

I spent the last decade and a half of my life in straight-up hustle mode. Even before my son was born (who is now 15), I was hard-working, driven and determined. As a 19 year-old freshman in college, working and playing on the softball team, I was hustling nonstop, trying to make it all happen, and happen well. My goal was to be the best at everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.

Then, just after my freshman year in college, I got pregnant. And I learned quickly what it really meant to “get your hustle on”, because I was not about to stop progressing. As soon as I could, I got back into school. I consistently worked two jobs and did everything I could to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads; late nights studying, carrying my toddler with me to class, even taking on a third job delivering pizza at night just to make rent one summer. I sold Avon, did hair on the side, and cleaned houses to make that extra money. There were no breaks for a young single mom-slash-college student, and I didn’t expect any. I saw no other option. If I didn’t make it happen, who would?

Women are pretty amazing. I LOVE being a woman, and thank God every day for those two phenomenal X chromosomes that graced me with curves, emotions and the strength of a lioness! We work hard. We hustle. We accomplish our dreams. Women are doing exceptionally well in a world that has tried so hard to keep us down. We have always pushed the envelope. The problem? We don’t always know how or when to step OUT of hustle mode. That same “make it happen” strategy of determination and control that worked to snag that degree or land that awesome job can absolutely crush us when we try to apply it to other areas of our lives. I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it happen… and the total sense of confusion one can be left with after hustle mode fails to work can be devastating.

The Flow

We cannot approach our relationships in hustle mode (if we want them to be successful). This knack for control that has worked so well in other areas of our lives can drive a deadly wedge between ourselves and those who we love. When in hustle mode, sometimes it’s easy to forget that people do have free will and, whether we like it or not, we need to respect that free will. People are free to decide what they want to do with their own lives, even if it doesn’t match up with what we want. If someone does not want to be in your life, this is a choice that they have the right to make. If someone’s life dreams do not line up with yours, you cannot resolve to change them, rush them, force them to align themselves with your agenda and then expect to be happy in the end. Relationships simply do not operate that way.

Hustle mode has its place, but equally important to the hustle is the ability to simply flow. As tough as this concept may be to understand for hustlers like me who are used to making things happen, it is important to learn the difference and to develop skills in both areas (hustling and flowing). If you exert your hustling strength and control over a man who is just as strong as you are, get ready to bump heads and possibly drive him away. If you are a woman like me, you want a strong man in your life. The catch, though, is that another strong person will resist your attempt to control everything. That hustle can actually kill your spirit and douse your opportunities for true love.

A woman who is used to being in control may find a man she wants – regardless of whether or not he is good for her – and use her hustle and control skills to keep him in her life, when really, she should be relying on FLOW. Rather than trying to change him or take great measures to keep him around, she should simply let it flow. Flow does not dictate what will happen or how the story will end. Flow does not get pissed off when things don’t go as planned. Flow walks in faith and allows for the natural order of life to unfold. Flow is confident enough to know that what she brings to the table is excellent and if her assets compliment the other party in the relationship, she does not need to force anything to happen. Hustlers, we must release the need to control everything and allow nature to take its course. If he’s the one, it will flow without our grand orchestration skills (our skills are pretty grand, aren’t they?). We will not have to design everything to “make sure” it all works out. This is one of those rare situations in life in which we can truly relax and enjoy the ride.

You can’t force someone to love you. You can’t orchestrate a relationship that simply isn’t meant to be or isn’t ready to blossom in the way that you want it to. When other people are involved, you’re no longer dancing alone. If you’re unable to flow with the music, if you find yourself trying to control the beat and the tempo, along with all of the dance moves, you may find yourself losing dance partners. Relax. Let the music play, and allow yourself to flow with it.

This flowing business ain’t easy. Take it from a recovered control addict. But it is very necessary and key to your happiness that you learn how to stop hustling at times and surrender yourself to the flow. It can be scary. But it can also be quite freeing. It can enable you to let go of the need to control the outcome and simply enjoy the music, enjoy the sway of two bodies flowing in sync, enjoy the absence of anxiety. You’ll find that when you flow with other people, rather than try to control them, you enjoy their company more. You learn about yourself. You pay attention to what is actually unfolding, rather than attempting to alter the unfolding to get to the results you want.

Of course, we all want what we want. But when it comes to love, the best way to get what we want is to slow down, listen, and surrender yourself to the flow. Your instincts will take care of the rest. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know which way to flow – even if that means flowing away.

And then, sister friend, when it’s time to take care of business, get that degree, close that deal and make that money… by all means, go get your hustle on!

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic 

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