We need to stop saying “There is no try, only do”

I am haunted by the words of Yoda, and I genuinely believe that this quote leads to nothing but degradation and insecurity. Instead of shaming people despite their best efforts, we need to embrace the success of giving something your all.


by Grace Ashley, Multimedia Editor

As a current senior, the idea of college looms over me. I have been delving into writing college essays, standardized testing and maintaining my GPA on the academic side while simultaneously building up a sizable list of extracurriculars. I doubt it will come as a surprise that this can get extremely overwhelming. I try to do everything I can to work hard and keep up with everything. I often worry that this will not be enough to get into college, which is probably ridiculous, and I often voice my concerns to my parents so that they can boost my morale and self-confidence; however, this often turns hostile considering one of my father’s favorite phrases to quote: “There is no try, only do.” 

Wow! Thanks, Yoda.

I loathe this quote. I hate it with my whole being. I hate it to the point that I cannot watch “Star Wars” because it triggers a visceral reactionstomach turning, sweat beading, hands shakingand I am plagued by Yoda’s words. I would say that I am a fairly reasonable person to whom patience comes easily, but as soon as someone says this phrase I immediately lose any semblance that I had for them.  

I understand that Yoda is to my father’s generation as Uncle Iroh is to mine, in that they are significant fictional mentors, but the idea that Yoda puts forth is if you don’t succeed the first time, you will never succeed at all. It almost feels like the off-brand version of “pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” especially when you consider the fact that, most of the time, there are no bootstraps to pull yourself up with except your own best efforts. To say “there is no try, only do” is incredibly degrading in that it devalues all of the hard work someone puts into achieving a goal, and there is nothing more unhelpful than making someone feel small and lazy. 

Moreover, saying that “there is no try, only do” doesn’t make any sense. You have to try in order to do something, and achievements do not just fall into your lap without effort. You will not get an A on your next science test if you do not try to study the material. I understand the sentiment behind Yoda’s words is supposed to reflect how people should not worry or be afraid for how events turn out, but it seems like the quote is used in a way that makes it seem as though your trials and hard work can only be valid if they lead to victory. It leaves no room for the idea that trying your best is a success, and this exclusive perspective is inherently toxic and demeaning. 

I know that Yoda and “Star Wars” are an integral part of pop culture, and I do want to say that I am not trashing the franchise as a whole. If this quote had not been used against me time and time again, I would probably be a huge fan of “Star Wars.” But that just isn’t the case for me considering how much stress this quote has caused me. I specifically remember putting hours and hours into studying for tests, whether for classes or standardized testing, only to have this quote thrown at me if I scored lower than projected. It has grown more and more common in my own home as college admissions grow closer, only adding to my fears that I will not be enough for acceptance into university. All this quote has done for me is make me feel as though no effort I make will ever be enough, and, as overdramatic as that might seem, it has ruined any other meaning Yoda’s infamous words could hold.

And so, we need to stop saying “there is no try, only do.” As a culture, we have moved past the need for shaming people for not succeeding despite their best efforts, and I think that it is time to embrace the idea that your best is a success in and of itself.