When did ‘trying’ become a swear word?

There’s always that one guy in the bar. The one who’s wearing too much cologne, too much hair gel, pants that are way too tight and a look in his eyes that’s way too lecherous.

The one who is – shudder – trying too hard.

We all fear being seen as that person, right? Especially when it comes to racing.

Racing, to many of us, is a bubble, where everyone watches what everyone else is doing, saying, wearing and tweeting. And, instead of feeling safe in our little bubble, we live in constant fear of looking like we’re trying too hard.

Because even though we have an amazing racing family, we still compete with each other on at least one level, week-in and week-out.

We want to look good, but not like we put any thought into what we’re wearing or how our hair looks. We want the car to be fast, but not like we bought our speed. We want to share on social media, but not so much or so often that it looks like we care what others think. We want to have a really nice hauler, but not like we have so much money that we don’t need sponsors. (Don’t even get me started on this.)

Basically, we want it to appear like we woke up like this.

We didn’t have to try. Success, and a cleverly-crafted Instagram bio, is our natural state.

When did trying become a swear word? 

The same culture that wears YOLO shirts is also shaming us into caring immensely about what others think. But not looking like it.

‘You only live once.’ Definitely don’t care about what others think. (But make sure you look, effortlessly good on Periscope.) Be in great shape. (But talk about how all you eat is pizza. Unless you cross-fit. Then definitely tell us all about that.)

Win. (But make it look like you didn’t have to try by humble-bragging about how you just had to hang on while you navigated squirrels in your used-up car to get a paycheck that’s so small it won’t even make a difference anyway.)


You do you.

You do you, my friend.

(Well, maybe. If that’s really you then – by all means – you do you. Who am I to tell you, no? But, if you’re the rest of us then I say, no.)

Do not let the fear of looking like you’re trying (or caring) stop you from doing the things you want to do, and saying the things you want to say. And wearing the things you want to wear, even if it is a bright yellow baby tiger t-shirt. 

It’s tempting to just stick with what you know works about you and your brand. I see this every day from clients who want to try to do something different from the norm. They could get a standing ovation, but they let the fear of being ridiculed for ‘trying too hard’ stop them.

Don’t get me wrong, I can get behind the ‘don’t try too hard, just be yourself’ line of advice. Heck, I’ve given it before. But there’s a difference between trying too hard and trying. It’s the same difference between caring about what others think and just plain caring.

I’m sorry, but I want people to know that I care. Because that’s who I am.

I care about racing. I care about seeing racers successfully pursue their dreams. I care about tracks not closing down and events being successful enough that they happen over and over again.

I don’t just care about my clients’ businesses. I care about my business, too.

I care about how I look, which is a really hard thing to admit, because my appearance (and my website’s appearance, and that of my social media channels) communicates to others who I am, what I do, what I stand for and what I’m capable of, whether we like to believe that or not. I care about being successful, because I can only get there by helping other people be successful.

And that means putting myself out there in ways that I’m not always comfortable with. Putting my hand up in ways that other people might perceive as trying too hard.

I care about a lot of things, it seems. And when I read through that list of things that I care about, I actually become not-at-all-sorry about caring. And wanting people to know that I care.

There’s no shame in my trying-game.  

Because in racing, there’s no reward without risk. You don’t make a pass without potentially giving up a spot. There is no trophy given for just playing it safe and waiting it out.

We take risks, often big ones, and sometimes we win. And sometimes we fall flat on our faces.

And all of that requires trying.

It’s okay to stop worrying about people seeing you do it. It’s okay to let them see that you care. In fact, you might be surprised by how many people love you for exactly that reason.

You’ll never know until you – ahem – try. 


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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.