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Yoda says "there is no try" and he's right. I spent 25 years believing that if something didn't come naturally to me then it wasn't meant for me at all. I learned that I was using "try" as an avoidance tactic. There's no secret cure to this, the only way out is through. Commit to doing something even if it doesn't come easy, and even if it leaves you vulnerable. If you fail along the way, don't take that as a sign that you should stop.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
- So do you agree with it?
- What does Yoda even mean when he says it?
Try can mean two different things:
- M-W.com defines “try” as “to make an attempt”
- some people emphasize the “make”
- some people emphasize the “attempt”
- most of us actually use it both ways
From the time I was a child well into my 30s, I always expected to succeed on my first attempt.
- If I failed I wasn't good at it, and therefore I shouldn't do it.
- I should just leave those things to the people who are naturally good at it.
“There is no try” doesn't mean do effortlessly or don't bother.
- It means commit to what you are doing and do not hedge your bets
- It means focused action.
- Do and then keep doing.
- And it means having faith in yourself and what you can do.
- Knowing the unknowable when it comes to your own abilities.
- There are only two options: you can do or do not.
- If you do, you might fail a lot.
- You just take that to mean that you haven't done it yet.
You can also “do not” and still have success
- being good at things “without trying”
- stopped putting effort even into things that came easily to me
- “a smart person wouldn't have to”
- when being smart is 90% of your identity…?
when I failed, I could always say, “Well, that's OK, 'cause I didn't really try.”
What we can do about it:
- Commit to something you’re not good at
- Committing to fail isn’t good enough because you’ll half-ass failing and pretend that counts
- Take repeated focused action and commit to a goal that's meaningful and terrifying
- You will probably fail along the way. And it will hurt!
- That means you’re going the right way!
- This momentary failure IS NOT overall failure.
- Let it hurt and then keep doing.
- And believe in yourself. Whether you have any reason to or not.
OK, one last thing before I sign off. I have to give a shout out to my friend from college, Ryan O'Connell, who finally sat me down and made me watch the original trilogy. Yes, I said in college. And no, I'm not old enough for that to be OK. So thank you for that and I hope you enjoy this late April Fools Day present. For anyone in California that's looking to make some money and also help with the housing crisis, check him out at How-to-ADU.com.
Join me again in two weeks for the next Ex-Gifted.
We're going to be talking about Adulting.
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Kawai Kitsune by Kevin MacLeod
About the Ex-Gifted Podcast:
If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.
Host Raine Eliza talks about gifted kid burnout, and the damage that lasts long into adulthood. Damage like battered self esteem, decimated internal motivation, and a continued failure to live up to expectations even while we were placed on pedestals and alienated from our peers.
Ex-Gifted will cover failure, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and chronic anxiety and depression, and a whole lot more.
Each episode also offers suggestions to deal with your executive dysfunction in adulthood so you can rebuild the systems that allowed you to shine so brightly in childhood.
We’re making exceptional children into functional adults.
Welcome to Ex-Gifted. I'm Ren Eliza, and if you believe that you have no business doing something you’ve failed at in the past then this is the show for you!
Hi everyone, welcome to the Ex-gifted podcast. I’m really excited to actually be getting this thing started. Since this is the first episode, let's talk about what we're here for. I wanted to make this podcast to have a place to talk about all the ways that the gifted program fucked us up, but to not be too pessimistic about it. I also talk about some things that you can do to help get your life back on track now in adulthood.
One of the taglines for the show is that we're turning exceptional kids into functional adults, so if that resonates with you, then I hope that you like this episode. Let me know. Let me know what you think about it. You can contact me on my website exgifted.com. You can find me on Instagram @ExGiftedCast. Or you can just email me at Ren@exgifted.com. Ex always build spelled out E-X.
So today is episode one, but we're going to be talking about episode two of a movie that I'm sure you're already familiar with.
“Do or do not. There is no try.” Probably one of the most popular lines from one of the most popular movies from one of the most popular series of all time. So do you agree with it? What does Yoda even mean when he says it? So here's a secret upfront. Yoda is right, but maybe not in the way that you think.
First off, when someone says try, there are two ways they might mean it and the differences are a subtle chasm. Like an inch wide but a mile deep. My pals at Meriam Webster define “try” as to make an attempt, but some people use it to mean to make (emphasis on make) an attempt and some people use it to mean to make an attempt (emphasis on attempt). And I'd expect that most of us actually use it both ways without even really noticing.
So if you invite a friend to your house for next weekend - or for an on line hang out since we're still in Pandemic hell - if they tell you that, they'll “try” to make it. Do you think that means that they will do whatever they can to make sure that they are definitely able to come, barring extreme circumstances? Or do you think that - you know - they mean that they'll think about it, but something is probably going to come up, so maybe don't hold your breath.
Sometimes trying means putting in a lot of effort, but sometimes it means putting in as little as possible. So which way did Luke mean it? If you haven't watched the movie recently, it might not be fresh in your mind, but go pull up the clip. Listen to his tone of voice and make a guess which way Luke was using it.
Now for me. From the time I was a child well into my 30s, I would beat myself up if I tried to do something but didn't succeed right away. If I failed, that meant that was a thing that I wasn't good at, and therefore I shouldn't do it.
This included things like learning to play an instrument. If I couldn't play a song right away the minute you put a guitar into my hands then that's because I wasn't born good at instruments and therefore it wasn't a thing that I should be doing. I should just leave music playing to the people who are naturally good at it.
Slowly I began to move away from things if I didn't have a good reason to think that I would be immediately successful, I was always supposed to just do a thing without effort. You know the meme dog? No try, only succeed. Do. Or do not right? I shouldn't have to try.
Now, if you thought about it a lot here, you’re probably shaking your head and saying “that's not what Yoda meant!” or “of course he's right. Come on, he's Yoda.” I asked my partner about this right before recording the episode and he said “Yoda would never say something like that,” referring to the way that I used to think he meant it. And yes, actually, Master Yoda is right. I just didn't understand what he meant.
There is no try, doesn't mean do effortlessly or don't bother. It means commit to what you are doing and do not hedge your bets. It means focused action. Do and then keep doing. If your ship is in the swamp then you're not done doing yet. And it means having faith in yourself and what you can do. You have to know the unknowable when it comes to your own abilities. If you see someone else do something amazing and you think “I can't believe it,” well, then of course, that is why you fail.
When you consider focused action. There are only two options you can do or do not. Now, if you do, you might fail. You might fail a lot, but because of your faith in yourself, you don't take a temporary failure to mean that you can't do it. You just take it to mean that you haven't done it yet.
In your life is a gifted kid - speaking from my own experience - you may have also learned that you can do not and still have success. I was always praised for being good at things without trying. And I internalized this shit out of that.
That's one of the biggest ways the gifted program fucked me up because as I got older, I went from not taking focused action on the hard things like learning a whole new language to not even putting that effort into things that came more easily to me. I believed that I should never put in the effort because a smart person wouldn't have to and, if I couldn't do it then. I guess I just wasn't that smart after all. And when being smart is 90% of your personality well?
So I learned to never do. I would try the same way Luke or any Moody teenager means it. I'd give things one shot - Half-assed - and if it didn't happen well then what you want is impossible. But because I didn't commit to that focused action, then when I failed, I could always say, “Well, that's OK, 'cause I didn't really try.” Only now this time suddenly trying means putting in a whole lot of effort. The same word used in two different ways to mean almost exactly opposite things, and my human brain both will recognize how vastly different they are and yet equate them anyway.'cause brains are weird.
OK, so that's probably enough whining for the first episode, but what can you do about it? If you have similar experiences to me then, you have learned that you shouldn't try -that you shouldn't have to try at something. And that if you have to put too much effort into it, then you really shouldn't be doing it.
How do we get over that? How do we do the things that we want to do? Especially when they take hard work. Now you're going to hate me for this, 'cause it's going to sound way too obvious, but the only way over this is to commit to doing something that you're not good at.
Now lots of therapists or coaches and stuff will tell you to seek out failure, which. Is in theory like that's good advice, but if you've been spending your whole life giving up on things that you're not good at you'll probably try a make a low effort attempt and say “cool look I failed. Yay I did it.” When it doesn't work out immediately.
But in order to actually learn something from this in order to have a life changing experience, you have to actually take repeated focused action and commit to a goal that's actually meaningful to you, but also scary 'cause you know you're not going to succeed right away. You have to do.
Maybe your goal is to learn a new language, or to run a marathon, or to learn an instrument. Maybe it's to talk to a whole lot of people publicly, even if the voice in the back of your head is telling you no one wants to hear from you.
And. If you commit to this thing then you will probably fail along the way. And because you're committed, it will hurt! That's a sign you're on the right path. The important part is not taking this momentary failure as an overall failure. Let it hurt and then keep doing. Don't take a one time failure as a sign you should stop. And believe in yourself. Whether you have any reason to or not. Trust in the force.
OK, one last thing before I sign off. I have to give a shout out to my friend from college. Ryan O'Connell, who finally sat me down and made me watch the original trilogy. Yes, I said in college. And no, I'm not old enough for that to be OK. So thank you for that and I hope you enjoy this late April Fools Day present. For anyone in California that's looking to make some money and also help with the housing crisis, check him out. I'll put that in the show notes and you can check out what he is up to for everyone else.