If you're from NYC you have probably heard the term "Hustle" since the womb. Usually on the streets referring to the less than the proper occupation of selling drugs. For those of us that didn't fall into that path, we still hustle and grind, because we know what the principles of the practice are. If we aren't hustling we feel like we are failing.

The streets

As a young Hispanic man from the Heights, I've had plenty an opportunity to be seduced by fast cash. Sometimes I look back and I wonder how much better off I might be down that path. With a great head on my shoulders and the means to make a sizable income, quickly.

But it doesn't last and that's why I am where I am.

I may have missed my shot to pursue those means of income, but I've observed that grind and while it tends to end abruptly, the work ethic can be sound. I and my fellow first gen New Yorkers are playing a different game. This one is the long game we have not witnessed before. It requires the same level of grit and ingenuity, for a longer period of time. Our methods are different than those who have had a less rocky and tumultuous path laid out for them. I'm here to remind all my peers, to not get discouraged.

Uphill battles

We are the first of our kind. Our parents came here to give us a better life. But our fight is different than those of our out of state counterparts.

We are playing in a field that was set to discourage us before we even got to the game. Now we are here, in the dug out trying to shine, and show what we can do. But most of us had to get jobs at a young age, because of various reasons.

  • Single Parent
  • Rising Rent,
  • or just being able to eat and have a roof over your, and possibly siblings heads

While developing a work ethic early in life* is great, having to work and trying to promote this work ethic in other fields, while also attempting to get degrees and an education is no small feat.

Throw in some familial drama, exhaustion, and a daunting level of competition from people who are more "qualified" than yourself; for good measure. This competition may have had more time to pursue that internship, spend a summer at a law firm, or any number of other reasons people get valuable experience/recommendations without actually having to work for that spot.

(I'm not here to degrade anyone who has worked for where they are; cause we all work incredibly hard but just shed light on a different struggle.)

The finish line

The difficult thing about this line is that it doesn't exist. I want to tell all my friends and even strangers in a similar boat, that we are the generation. We are the ones who are gonna make it and stake our claim in these previously impenetrable fields. But we must persevere, we must Reclaim, and apply our hustle.

Yes, it might seem impossible, and scary; but we owe it to ourselves and those who came before and will come after us, to break the mold. We must believe in ourselves, because if we don't no one will. All this struggle and heartache would have been for nothing.

We can't afford to settle.

*I started working at 10 years old to help support my mother and 3 siblings, and have had gainful employment ever since. Every once in a while I fall in the complacent pitfall of full-time retail work and it destroys my soul. At that time I have money to spare and assist, while it feels nice to not struggle for a little while. That is the ultimate distraction, and trap meant to keeps us off out of the game.