on never wanting to do your best

At least I have given it my best shot.

Those words don’t mean anything to me. I understand where the words are coming from; if you’ve tried your hardest and you still failed, at least you can rest easy knowing that you have done everything you could. But the logic fails me, I mean, how can you rest easy knowing you’ve tried your hardest and it still wasn’t enough? That must suck even more, to me at least. Which is why I have this small confession to admit: I’ve never tried my hardest at anything, ever.

OK maybe that makes me sound a little lazy and unmotivated and before you start making the disgusted-twisted-mouth-and-double-chin face at me allow me a moment to clarify. I do try, and pretty hard for things I care about. But I don’t give my hardest. It seems like it’s important for you to do your absolute best. But I don’t. I give maybe 70%, or 80% on a good day. I do this because I never have to give my all: in cello playing, in exams, in learning French, even in scholarships. Don’t get me wrong, not trying my hardest doesn’t mean I was screwing around. But I know ways in which I could have done better at the time I was actively pursuing my hobbies: I could have consistently read news in français facile, practised playing the cello a little more, gone on the Internet to read up about things beyond the syllabus to gain a more appreciative understanding. This hesitance of mine to go that extra bit could be attributed partly to laziness, but it’s also insulation, a pre-emptive measure. At least if I fail at being good(and most of the time I do), there is this hypothetical possibility that I could have made it if I had given it everything I’ve got. And that possibility is like a beacon of light, a shred of self-esteem to cling onto in the darkness of failure. It’s addictive, and it’s unhealthy. It’s also ironically cyclical, like all things in life are: not trying your hardest means you are almost certainly destined to fail, and failure means that you’ll be looking for any mechanism that allows you to sustain the small amount of self esteem you have left, and this leads you to never wanting to try your hardest.

On Friday I had a conversation with the Dragon (Karu) and he was asking me if I was keen on pursuing photography in the future, and I said no, because it was not going to be a stable job. Even my response sounded lame to my own ears. Karu said (along the lines of),”I can’t believe anyone would use job instability as an excuse for not pursuing what they like.” His genuine disbelief hit me with an euphoric sense of hope. Suddenly, just maybe, I can do this. Maybe I am not bound for a 9-5 confining office job or to become a speculator of currencies. Maybe I can join the art people, like I dare allow myself to think about sometimes. Maybe, this time, it’s the right time to try my absolute hardest. Because my response shouldn’t have been job instability. Rather, it’s a distrust in my own skills. So if I could change that, for starters by trying my hardest, maybe there could be a place around the creative campfire for me.

In fact, I’m starting to think that that is the only place I ever want to be.

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