The Raw Deal with Trying

Author: Yugal SehgalOriginally published on January 24, 2021

It starts with a choice. You have the itch, the unsettling itch of potential, and you choose to scratch it to get rid of it. You have an idea, a crazy idea, and you choose to chase it to no longer be eluded by it. You choose to give it a chance. One reasonable chance. It feels like a calling, very much like a universal conspiracy. You know you could fail, that is never not known, but you choose to scramble despite of it. You choose to try.

The world, however, doesn't see reason in your choice. Where you see dreams, it sees delusion. Where you see courage, it sees craziness. Where you see possibilities, it sees problems. And where you see hope, it sees hardship. You know it would be a difficult and lonesome journey without the world’s approval, but you also know there's more to life than how the world defines it. Life could mean more if you defy the world and define it for yourself. So you choose to define it.

Artwork by the author. © Yugal Sehgal

Defining your life, you find, entails more than defiance, however. It involves tradeoffs. Trying isn't so simple, after all. Effort consumes energy. Your means are limited, your time is running out, your fuel is drying up, and your hope is faltering. Trying is hard, as you knew it would be, but knowing so doesn’t make it any easier. Soon enough you begin to lose faith, perhaps your only asset so far. You begin to wonder, and oh do you wonder, if the world was right. Maybe the world did know better? Maybe life doesn't mean more? You had to do this? And you CHOSE to do this?

Your deliberate struggle and chosen suffering now seem impulsively foolish. If only something could validate your efforts? Perhaps just one tiny win? That would make it all worthwhile! You tried really hard, after all. Hard work should count, right? You pray for that win. If only you could get it…

And lo, the Gods of Trying provide. You get that win. It feels like a hard earned victory. You beat the odds and proved the world wrong. You defied and won. Sure, it was terribly hard to get there but tasting success makes you forget things, at least temporarily. Now you know what you can do, what you can achieve. Now you know you are capable of success. And so you choose to seek more of it.

Success, however, is a fleeting feeling. You learn that soon enough. As hard as it was to achieve in the first place, you realise it’s harder to sustain. It’s harder to replicate. What got you so far only takes you … so far. To get more, you need to do more. And to do more, you need to try more. Success, you find, spawns the desire for more success and trying spawns the requirement of more trying. Vicious or virtuous, that is the cycle. It itches and it itches again, you scratch and you scratch it again.

So what do you do now? Continue to scratch or give up? Or try something else? Maybe scratching isn’t the best way to suppress an itch, maybe prodding is? Maybe washing is? Or maybe … nothing is? What choice do you make? This right here is the raw deal with trying. The uncertainty, the indecision, the urgency, that's the essence of it.

Success spawns the desire for more success and trying spawns the requirement of more trying.

At the heart of it, trying is all about choosing; choosing to take charge, choosing to be decisive, choosing to trust and push yourself, and choosing to find a way despite setbacks and challenges. When you choose to try, you choose to make choices.

The hallmark of trying is No Guarantees. Your chances of failing are often higher than your chances of succeeding, and like it or not, you will constantly be reminded of that fact. But whether you take a chance on yourself or not, whether you try or not, you can certainly believe that no matter what happens — success or failure — at the end of it all, you will either know better because you tried, or regret not having tried at all. That too, is a choice.

Yugal Sehgal writes about life, mindfulness, and people. He lives in India. Follow him and @drawcuments on Instagram.