My colleague Anne Thibault reminded me in a meeting recently that “you’re trying too hard” can be quite an insult for many people. “Trying too hard” can connote earnestness, nerdiness, and caring deeply about something.
Just reading the title of this post puts a knot in my stomach. As a person who has had many fervent enthusiasms, the latent cynicism of “why are you so into that,” “nobody cares about that as much as you,” or “you’re trying too hard” can make me question my own excitement or passion for a topic.
But where is that comment coming from? What spurs someone to tell someone else that they’re putting too much effort into something, that they aren’t cultivating the correct languid distance?
I don’t know about you, but I would rather try too hard than not hard enough. I’d rather care and be disappointed than not care. I’d rather make an effort and fail than never put myself out there.