A Culture of Effortless Perfection

by Brittany Hardy

Before class the other day, someone accused me of being a “try-hard.”

My first response was, of course, was denial. I tried to combat the derogatory remark immediately, citing my Netflix habits, nap schedule and general procrastination tactics. As class began, I reflected on the allegation. Why is “try-hard” an insult? Why shouldn’t college students, and everyone for that matter, offer as much effort as possible in all endeavors? Why do we seem to encourage a culture of mediocre work ethic?

Then it dawned on me. Our generation is absolutely consumed by the cultural phenomenon of effortless perfection. We want to be social and involved and attractive and maintain a high GPA while upholding the image of effortlessness. In essence, we want to be perfect and make it look easy.

The fact of the matter is that it is not easy. It does require effort to strive toward that unattainable goal of perfection, and if you think it does not, you might want to reevaluate.

All too often, people are misled by the term “try-hard,” which is understandable due to the negative connotation it has somehow acquired over time. Unfortunately, people, especially students, perceive trying hard and being intelligent as two mutually exclusive concepts. In reality, giving more effort than a task appears to require does not undermine one’s intelligence in the slightest. Believe it or not, level of effort is not indicative of a person’s level of intelligence, and they are certainly not negatively correlated.

If you have a 4.0 GPA and you have truly never read a textbook in your life, I applaud you. If you have a 4.0 GPA and you have religiously read and re-read every page of every textbook, I applaud you as well. Do what you have to do, but do not underrate your hard work for the sake of perceived effortlessness, and above all, do not undermine the hard work of others.

By using “try-hard” as a negative label, we are perpetuating this idea that trying hard is a bad thing, thereby discouraging fellow students from achieving their best, and, honestly, that sickens me.

Let us challenge this idea of perceived effortlessness, and let us instead wear our hard work like a badge of honor. Let us strive to be the best we can be, regardless of the amount of effort it takes or appears to take, and let us encourage our fellow students to do the same.