Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Best Version of Yourself


Because I spend so much time on line, I see a lot of posts urging women to “Be the best version of yourself.”  Invariably these posts are accompanied by photo edited pictures of impossibly thin women with perfect muscle definition, somehow perspiring attractively while maintaining an exercise posture that would send me straight to my chiropractor.  On my very best day ever, I have never looked like that.  (I am the short, round, red-faced woman you sometimes see in the very back row of an exercise class.)
Quite aside from the issues I have with the unrealistic body image these posts project, and with the problems they are causing for our young women, I’m bothered that the “best version of ourselves” is being touted as something entirely physical. 
Don’t get me wrong:  I’m all for healthy living.  I believe, though, that our body is just the physical plant from which our best self operates.  The things that most define us, and most define our interactions with the world around us, are not visible from our exteriors.
My “best version” is about spiritual and emotional well being.  It’s about being compassionate, and empathetic, and kind.  It’s about being patient, and persistent.  It’s about being honest, and honourable, and hardworking. 

I’ve noticed that my “best version” varies from day to day, and sometimes even from hour to hour within the day.
Sometimes my “best version” is the one that, although feeling sick and exhausted rises to meet the chores and challenges of the day while what it wants (and needs) most is to curl up under the covers and sleep the day away.  That version doesn’t care about what it wears, what it eats, or if it gets its daily exercise. It just cares that it accomplishes the bare minimum required to meet its obligations to others.
Sometimes my “best version” is the one that bites its tongue in the face of rudeness, neglect, or anger.  That version doesn’t care if the chores get done, if obligations get met, or if plans for the day are pushed aside.  It just cares that the situation is not made worse, or feelings further hurt, through uttering an angry response.
Sometimes my “best version” is the one that finds the means to help another even while I am struggling to get by myself.  That version doesn’t care about appearances, or about what is not getting done.  It doesn’t worry about tomorrow’s worries or next week’s bills.  It cares about what it can do to make things better for someone right now.
On the very best of days my “best version” approaches the day with energy, enthusiasm and optimism.  On my not-best days, I let the realities of life get in the way.  I get discouraged.  I get grumpy.  I lose my temper.  

Eventually, I pull myself together again and move on.
And that's my point:
None of us are our “best version” all the time. 
All any of us can do is try our hardest in the face of circumstances that are constantly changing for all of us, every moment of every day.
It’s important to strive to be our "best version" but equally important to forgive ourselves when we fall short - and then to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and be ready to try again.
Regardless of what the internet and women’s magazines and TV ads may say, we damned sure shouldn’t be letting someone else define our “personal best” for us!
Hold tight to your own vision of what is best for you.  Then go forward and follow your dream.
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