Something I’ve often struggled with is the notion of “trying too hard”. It’s a phrase that is always uttered with a negative connotation. Why? Because trying too hard reeks of desperation. It implies that you are not confident in your work, your sense of self, the knowledge that your successes will be earned, that you deserve them, that if not this time, another opportunity will arise. But, I ask myself, if I’m not trying hard, am I not trying enough? Am I being lazy? Am I feigning nonchalance when really I couldn’t care about anything more? I can’t trick myself into believing the opportunities don’t mean something to me.
So, what then?
Guys, I think I’ve finally figured it out. The difference between trying too hard and just trying hard.
If we put forth the work, for the sake of our craft, for the pure joy in what we do, for the excitement of fueling our creativity, we will never be trying too hard.
But if we put forth the work, for the sake of a job, an opportunity, a reward, a recognition of said hard work, we will forever be trying too hard. We will never receive the outcome we so desperately seek.
Because that is the difference – desperation.
I’m not saying be cynical and rid yourself of hope. That can have just the same effects. What I’m saying is do the work for the love of it. For the journey and the present life and not for an end result.
I’ve worked hard all my life. Maintaining high GPAs to stay at the top of my class, having a job since high school, during college, and afterwards. I’ve obeyed the rules and listened to my mother and didn’t get into trouble. But guys, the times when I’ve been rewarded have not been from doing A + B and expecting X to be the outcome. Each opportunity in my life has been granted to me because I yes, did the work, but I loved the work. I allowed myself to be prepared for an opportunity that may or may not come by, but I didn’t focus on the end result.
Almost every job I’ve had has fallen in my lap. Whether, almost literally, or because I was in the right place at the right time. I didn’t hem and haw and torment myself over finding these jobs. I obtained the skill sets, lived my life, and let the rewards come.
Again, don’t mistake me, I DID THE WORK. And I’ve sought opportunities. But I have done both without expectation. The times I didn’t? I think you can guess what happened.
Because also, as an actor, almost every role I’ve booked has been because I was confident enough in myself to not ride my happiness on the outcome. In fact, I’ve joked with fellow actors that it’s the roles we DON’T want that we inevitably end up booking. Why? Because directors and those in casting can read your confidence. When you take ownership of who you are and the light you bring to the character, they can feel it. They can feel that you are not desperate for the paycheck. That instead you are satisfied with you and the work you’ve brought to the table. You’ve allowed yourself to relax and live in the moment because who cares if you book this job? You’re getting to do what you love – if only for a few minutes.
I know, I know. This is all easier said than done. It’s a constant practice, but one I’m willing to place my bets on.
What do you think? Have you found this to be true? That if you live and let live, celebrate yourself and the
good great work you’ve done, what’s supposed to come, will?
Photos by Laurence Tan.