Can It Really Hurt To Try?

posted by Andrea | 03/30/2017
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I realized very early in my life that I learn best from first-hand experience. You can TELL me how to do something over and over and over again, you can even SHOW me how to do it multiple times, but I will never fully master a skill until I actually DO IT MYSELF.

A perfect example of this is driving 🙂

You can tell me how to get someplace until you’re blue in the face…. you can give me all the land markings, street names, en-route cues, etc., you can even provide me with GPS and a map, but I will never be able to memorize the route until I drive it myself. In fact, I could sit in the car while someone else drives to the same place over and over and over again, and there’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t be able to tell you how we got to that particular destination.

All of this to say — I’ve always been the type who wants to “do it myself” because I know that’s how I personally learn best.

I very rarely shy away from giving something a try — even if I’ve never done it before, even if I have no idea if it will work or not, even if I have no experience with whatever I’m doing — because in my experience, I won’t actually KNOW if I can do it until I give it a try.

And MOST of the time, I’ve learned that it really can’t hurt to just try.

Sure, I might mess up a recipe and waste a few ingredients — but at least I now know that substituting applesauce for oil in our favorite waffle recipe does NOT produce nearly as tasty of a finished product.

I might spend a little extra on a gallon of paint I thought would look good in a certain room, only to find out I hated it and went back to get my most favorite shade of antique white.

I might waste a bit of time on a craft project, only to realize that super glue and fabric glue are not interchangeable!

I might kill a few perennials that I should have planted in a shadier location but wanted to test them in a sunnier location just to see if they would thrive. Now I know better.

I might learn that taking 3 children to the grocery store is not my most favorite way to spend the morning… but that I CAN do it if I need to!

I could go on and on and on and on — the point I’m trying to make is that I’m usually not afraid of failing. And if you ask me…

Life is better when we aren’t afraid to fail.

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Over the last 7+ years of sharing my thoughts and ideas here on my blog, I have received hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of emails and comments asking things like:

Your recipe calls for ground beef; do you think I could use ground turkey instead?

You mentioned using OxyClean in your laundry; do you think it will work for my kid’s baseball uniforms?

I know you use the Boba baby carrier; do you think it will help my baby who is ___ months old and sort of fussy?

My husband doesn’t like cottage cheese; do you think I could omit it or sub in ricotta cheese instead?

Do you think I should try your homemade ______ cleaner in my own home?

My kids are really picky eaters; do you think they would like this recipe?

I’m gluten and dairy free; could I substitute gluten-free flour and almond milk in this recipe?

Can I freeze ________?

What do you think will happen if I added ______ to this recipe instead of ________?

Do you still use your homemade oil cleansing method for your face? If so, do you think it would work on my _______ (oily, dry, combination, acne-prone) skin?

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I completely understand that it’s often easier and safer to ask someone else’s advice than to experiment for yourself, and I do always reply to these emails and comments with my opinions. However, I also almost always say something like “just remember, it probably can’t hurt to just give it a try” or “you’ll never really know until you try it for yourself”.

I have so many people in my own life (almost exclusively women) who question every decision they make, always seek out other people’s options for everything they do, waffle for days (and weeks and months) over simple decisions, and constantly second-guess themselves because they don’t want to be wrong or make a mistake.

It seems like such an exhausting way to live!

(NOTE: this is coming from an extremely decisive, self-sufficient, non-perfectionist who doesn’t care all that much what others think of me!)

I know there are different personality types for a reason, and certainly I don’t expect everyone to act and react just like I would in every situation… but I do think there is a lot of freedom that comes with simply giving something a try without worrying about failing or making a mistake. 

Give that new recipe a try and have frozen pizza as your back-up.

Swap out those ingredients and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work… at least you know for next time.

Try a new cleaning product, a new laundry method, or a new skin care regimen. If you don’t like it, you can always switch back.

Try a new hobby or exercise routine and see what you think. You’re not locked in for life, you know!

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Certainly, there are some situations where it actually could “hurt” to try — like trying to do your own electrical work without proper safety techniques (ask me how I know this one) or other more dangerous activities.

We should all use some common sense when applying the “does it really hurt to try” philosophy to our lives. However, for the most part, I am a firm believer that you won’t know unless you give it a try… and what can it hurt to just try it? 

It might be out of your comfort zone, but the next time you’re tempted to text a friend, ask for suggestions on social media, or convince yourself you can’t do it, I’d love it if you simply try doing it yourself to see what happens.

You might be surprised how much you learn in the process!

What was the last new thing you tried?

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19 comments

  1. Shan

    03/31/2017

    Andrea, I love your qualities of decisiveness, self-sufficiency, being ok with failing at first try, and not needing others’ approval. But I also notice that you like to analyze and evaluate results, sometimes trying to improve and other times leaving well enough alone, according to your life circumstances. I really appreciate seeing your personality at work because you have been able to accomplish so much, especially in raising your children and providing a wonderful home for Dave and your family. What was the last new thing I tried? Yesterday I picked up a new salad dressing from Trader Joe’s, Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette and decided to use it as a marinade for some skinless chicken breasts that I had thawed for dinner. After about four hours of marinating, I pan fried them in oil on each side. Then I broiled them on each side till they were browned. The chicken was fairly moist on the inside and slightly blackened on the outside. My husband loved it and now I have another easy recipe for dinner!

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  2. BB

    03/30/2017

    I loved what you said here:
    “I have so many people in my own life (almost exclusively women) who question every decision they make, always seek out other people’s options for everything they do, waffle for days (and weeks and months) over simple decisions, and constantly second-guess themselves because they don’t want to be wrong or make a mistake.

    It seems like such an exhausting way to live!”

    AMEN to that! My daughter’s MIL has such a habit of asking everyone she sees/is around ‘What do you think…’ questions. One day she caught me off guard and I took a different tact in answering her. I calmly and nicely said to her: “It doesn’t matter what I think, as it isn’t my house, so anyone else answering that question would not be looking at the issue the same way you would and taking their advice would likely not get you the result you seem to be looking for”. No more ‘what do you think?’ questions from her for almost a year now. I don’t mind giving some suggestions in order for them to move forward (NOT my opinion!) to someone who seems to really be in pickle about a decision, but this was a constant every time I saw her. I finally came to the conclusion this was her way of creating conversation, but it sure was off-putting.

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks — and I love your response to your daughter’s mother-in-law. I might “steal” that to use when others constantly ask my opinion even though I know they don’t need it.

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  3. Pamela

    03/30/2017

    I have this issue sometimes, especially when it comes to parenting. My daughter is only 2 and I haven’t had a lot of experience with kids before this. So if something is going to be challenging, I tell myself it’s an experiment. It sounds dumb, but that way I don’t put pressure on myself to make things “perfect” or whatever. It’s just an experiment after all!!

    I do feel fortunate that we have enough money that a few wasted ingredients or dollars is ok. I figure it’s the cost of learning. Of course we research the heck out of big purchases but having that tiny bit of wiggle room is really freeing 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Well Pamela — I don’t think you are alone in your parenting struggles. I know so many parents (myself included) that go back and forth on certain issues because one friend told them one thing but the Dr. told them another, but their gut is telling them another, but they read an article that said something completely different. Sound familiar 🙂

    I love your “experiment” mindset! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Karen

    03/30/2017

    Love this!! My granddaughter and I worked on our very first quilt together this past week. Was it perfect? No way………………and funny she reminded me more than once that it was ok that is wasn’t perfect. I stepped back and told myself that we were making memories and it was ok that the doll quilt she would be taking home would not be perfect. Ugh ~ why does it matter? I also had someone remind me that it takes many many hours at something to get good.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well if it makes you feel any better, I wouldn’t even attempt to work on a quilt with my grandma because she is 100% perfectionist at everything she does and I would go insane! Sounds like you did a good job of letting go and enjoying the moment!

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  5. Mary in Maryland

    03/30/2017

    I carry this tendency a bit farther…I start thinking of new ways to do things before the teacher even finishes the instructions. I told a friend I was thinking of taking a beginner’s class for quilters, but I wanted to change the size of the blocks. She suggested I do my first project from a book instead of annoying a teacher. Good advice. Now I try things on my own before I take a class or ask for advice. It lets me know where the trouble spots are and opens me up to advice.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — so funny (but true). I often like learning on my own better than having a “teacher” too.

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  6. Bonnie'sMama

    03/30/2017

    After years of frustration and whining because my husband is in ministry and doesn’t get paid much, I decided to move forward with my own small business, painting signs and making bracelets. That means I am beginning to learn how to use some social media and possibly starting a blog, something I have resisted before because I don’t want to complicate my life.

    I’ve been listening to Chris Guillebeau’s podcast since the beginning of the year and reading a stack of his books. I’ve heard too many of his pep talks–I can’t just sit around anymore! I decided to try some of these things for a year and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, I can quit. I’ll learn some new skills, connect with new people and maybe find some new friends, hopefully make some money, and bless people with beautiful, meaningful, inspiring signs to hang in their homes.

    In my family of origin, we highly value jumping in and trying things, bluffing it till you figure it out. Sure, you have to go back and undo things sometimes, but we get a lot further than if we’d sat around hoping for the knowledge and skill to come to us.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good for you — sounds like a fun new adventure!

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  7. Sue

    03/30/2017

    So good, Andrea.

    Thanks for the great post.

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  8. Stephanie

    03/30/2017

    I am a waffler (yes I know that isn’t a word). But over the years I am learning to let go and just do. I think some of the issue is the amount of info at our fingertips. And if you ask for opinions or search the internet for something, you will find a host of viewpoints, which makes the decision making a whole lot harder. One day I decided to look up the viewpoints of a supplement, and depending on what I typed in, I could get whatever result I was looking for. Just try that with apple cider vinegar and any ailment, condition, etc under the sun, it will somehow help according to the World Wide Web.
    So then we start to question everything. I still do way too much research, but have learned to use it as a tool to make a decision, and not worry about the outcome. And a lot of the times I also enjoy just doing it and learning that way.
    My husband gets tired of my lack of confident decision making, and encourages me to not think about it too much and just do it.

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    Caroline Reply:

    Waffler isn’t a word?!! Lol. I have a similar mindset at times, and I think you hit the nail on the head with the Internet. It can be such an amazing tool but also completely overwhelming. Sometimes you see contradictions within the same article! It’s great to have so much info and the ability to connect right at our finger tips, but it can make it that much harder to make a decision!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’d totally consider “waffler” a word (I use it!) Also, this is surprising news to me — I would have pegged you for “very decisive”!

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    Stephanie Reply:

    Ha! I can be very decisive about things I know and am comfortable doing. But a lot of other things, I am definitely not decisive; such as home decorating , clothes shopping, and big ticket purchases. You should’ve seen me researching vacuums and laptops this winter.

    As for waffler, my phone had a fit when I typed that, so I thought it wasn’t a word….but now I looked it up and I guess it is. Learn something new every day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I KNEW it was a word 🙂

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  9. Chris

    03/30/2017

    I’m currently on vacation in Texas and yesterday we are Mexican food from a food truck. I got ab pork quesadilla and a cow tongue quesadilla. It was very good!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — so adventurous Chris! Enjoy your vacation!

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