Trying too hard

I am very well acquainted with this phrase: Trying too hard. I’ve had it used on me quite a bit by reporters, directors, fans and critics.

It’s a common enough phrase. Even I have used it on other people. People who “try too hard” come across as irritating and fake and you just want to slap them and tell them to just be themselves.

But have you ever considered it from another perspective?

What is so wrong with “trying too hard”? Doesn’t everyone preach the maxim: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”? Everyone knows that there’s virtue in trying. Your parents, if they’re good parents, should have instilled that lesson into you since you were a kid. You’ve read stories about people who fail and fail but they eventually succeed because they never gave up.

So what is this nonsense about trying too hard? Can one try too hard?

If your child is slow and keeps getting lousy grades and one day decides that she’s sick of it and wants to spend six hours a day after school to just study and study so she can get better grades, will you scold her for “trying too hard”? Will you tell her, “Relax, my dear. All your classmates only study two hours a day and get good marks. You should be like them. Don’t try too hard and you’ll pass with flying colours.”?

Would you say that?

I don’t think so.

If you have an actress who is not naturally good at acting, so she puts a lot of effot into improving and works hard every way she can to find success, should you say to her, “Relax. Don’t try so hard. If it’s yours, it’s yours. Just be yourself and success will come to you.”?

I don’t think life happens that way. Not everyone is born a natural. Some people have to try harder than others to achieve the same level of success. You shouldn’t give up just because you weren’t born smart, or pretty, or fast, or talented. You find ways to make up for that lack.

Don’t you admire people who laugh at failure in the face and just keep on trying? So how in the world is it possible for anyone to “try too hard”?

Isn’t it a much greater crime not to try at all?

Sometimes, people can be so blind and stupid.