The art of trying

Why is it that I equal trying with failing? — I want to talk to you about the art of trying, and I want it to not be a depressing read (so I added some cheesy but inspirational quotes for you). But I also don’t want to sound preachy, as I am not in a position to tell you anything really. And lastly, I would love (!) to hear your opinion. So, you with me?

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want”
— Richard Yates

The word ‘trying’ has always intrigued me. My dad used to say a really lame, Dutch saying whenever me or my siblings said “I’ll try!”. I’m not even sure was a real saying, but it did make an impact. Somehow you don’t really try something when you succeed, because when you succeed you actually ‘do’ something, don’t you? You no longer tried, but you actually did the thing you were trying to do. Therefore whenever you try, and don’t succeed: you fail. If I put it like this, it sounds as simple as 1 + 1 = 2, right? But somehow I am getting convinced that this must be my mind playing tricks on me. To me, saying that “you’ll try” sounds like a soft commitment. You try, but something can come up that you can prioritise above said thing you would try to do. It sounds less resolute, like you already allow for it to fail. But now I am wondering: is it though? Somehow I keep having this nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, this must be a little too harsh?

If I may be so bold I’d like to claim that the only thing wrong with trying is that things can go awry. Maybe my problem with the art of trying doesn’t necessarily lie in the trying part — but more in the failing part. It is not necessarily trying that leaves a sour taste in my mouth, but failing. Failing feels so definitive, so resolute. But is it really so bad to fail?

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
— Thomas A. Edison

As soon as you start Googling words like trying, failure or even success you’ll stumble upon infinite amount of (somewhat?) inspiring quotes from people from times long gone, people who made history. History by succeeding at something, sometime along the way. All of them talk about the importance of trying. They all advocate that, whatever you do, you have to keep trying.

I know it sounds a bit weird, but I keep being inspired by watching people see art in modern art museums and hear them saying something along the lines of “my niece could have done that?”. And surely, some paintings really do not seem to have that much skill involved. But the fact of the matter is: your niece did not paint that painting. She did not provide that context with the painting either. She did not go through the process of making and finishing that painting in order for it to hang in a museum to be judged by people who do not know what to do with it, and therefore criticise it with somewhat unfair statements. Of course, we all do this. Maybe not when seeing modern art, but probably with something else in life you stumble upon. Wishing you would have thought of it. Still, don’t let the stop you either. It might have been done before, but has it been done by you?

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
— Winston Churchill

Can I say that I find it actually insane that, if you get the time to really stop and think about the things that you want to do, you can actually go and do whatever you want. Of course, you can say “but Louise, it’s not that easy!”. And obviously, I know life is really, really horribly hard sometimes. Sometimes it even is a bit unfair! But nonetheless, it actually really is that simple. I am sure you have heard this one before but if you want to become a writer: start writing. If you want to become a dancer: start dancing. Don’t beat yourself up about the things and actually enjoy exploring the things you try to do. I know you have bills to pay, and only 24 hours in one day. Figure your shit out. Get a job you’re good at and actually enjoy 60% of the time. Make sure you eat and sleep properly. And the rest of your time: keep fucking trying. It really, really is that simple. It might take time, and a lot of effort, but please do not make it more difficult that it really is.

Recap? Mind over matter: keep trying. Listen to Churchill, Edison, Yates! If you have a fire igniting inside you, don’t let your worries and fears get to you. Even if they have gotten a hold of you, keep trying! Try more, try harder and whatever you do: do not stop. Analyse your intentions, your ambitions and your convictions. Ask yourself what it is that you are trying to do. Write it down. Tell your loved ones. Or not. Heck, fail a thousand times! Do what works for you. But whatever it is: keep trying. Penny for your thoughts?