the difference between trying too hard and trying hard

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?

Work Begets Work

Guys, I think I’ve finally figured it out. The difference between trying too hard and just trying hard.

It’s expectation.

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.

Acting in Los Angeles

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?

P.S. Inspiration, not competition and Real Life Girl Bosses.

Photos by Laurence Tan.

-wonderland sam

imdb.me/samanthalee

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actress/texan kickin' it in los angeles. always searching for my next pizza. cia agent in another life.

15 thoughts on “the difference between trying too hard and trying hard

  1. I love this post! It’s so relatable ☺️

    I think it’s so important to give yourself a break and stop striving for perfection!

    1. Yes, because perfection isn’t possible and even if it was, life is SUBJECTIVE. Things don’t always happen because we want it and do the work. We have to do the work and allow circumstances to take shape around that. ❤

  2. I can totally relate to this! But I have learned to stop beating myself up for not meeting my expectations.

    It’s a constant practice like you said but do strive for progress other than perfection.

    1. Our only expectation should be we do the work to the best of our ability. Not to any standards of perfection or to someone’s opinion. Getting hired, receiving the accolades – those will always be subjective “rewards”…we have no control over it!

    1. Thanks Bri! We have to be confident in ourselves that we have provided the best we have to offer – we’ll be right for the job/accolade/what have you, or we won’t. It’s not up to us, and that’s OKAY.

  3. I absolutely LOVE this post!! Especially this bit: “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.”

    It’s such a good reminder to check what is motivating us to do more, and make sure that it aligns with who we want to be and why we want to be. This was a great read for me right at this moment, so thank you 🙂

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you Morgan. Appreciate your kind comment, and I’m so glad this was relevant for you! We just gotta do things for the right reasons, and the rest will fall into place. ❤

  4. I absolutely LOVE this post!! Especially this bit: “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.”

    It’s such a good reminder to check what is motivating us to do more, and make sure that it aligns with who we want to be and why we want to be. This was a great read for me right at this moment, so thank you 🙂

  5. Totally true, what else to strive for if not pure happiness through doing what we love to do – after all, that intrinsic motivation is what really keeps us motivated in the long run.
    Have fun in Europe! Can’t wait for your travel diary entries! Your trip is getting pretty close, right? 🙂 xo Selly

  6. You made me feel so related to your post! In other words is basically for me ‘enjoy the journey’. Of course you must push yourself to achieve your goals but we need to find that balance.

    1. Agreed. Once we reach the “destination”, we generally strive for more beyond that anyway. It’s a constant desire for more, more, more. And what if we never reach that destination? We have to find happiness in the in-between. ❤

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