I heard someone respond to the question “when are you the best version of yourself?” with, “Never”. She explained that you are always growing and developing and thereby aiming for that better, best version. While listening I had a very strong internal reaction… No, I disagree.
There is no one version of you. And with that, you can be the best version of yourself at any time. Why do we have to always strive to be better? Bigger? More? What a tiring way to live (and i know because how long have I fought to be better, stronger, smarter, fitter?). Why is it not just ok now, right here where you are? Can you not be the best in this moment without having a a goal hanging above your head of something else you have to be? Have to reach?
I have thought about this quite a deal and have come up with a mountain metaphor that helps me make sense of it all.
You are out for a walk up a spectacular looking mountain. From the bottom you can see that it high, how high you don’t know as cannot see its peak. From what you can see, you observe some parts as rugged and bare, some parts green and wet, some shadowed, some sunny. You cannot see the back of the mountain, so this remains a mystery – for now. It’s quite a walk up to the top, so it will take you a while, but that’s ok because you have time.
You set off, step for step, walking at your own pace. You decide to head east because you see some walnut trees that grab your attention. You reach the trees and sit beneath them, soaking up the sun that hits your back and studying the leaves that dance in the wind. You like it here, so you pitch a tent and stay the night. Maybe you stay one day, maybe one week, maybe three years. There is no rush, the peak of the mountain will wait and there is so much to see in between.
When you are ready, you move on. You walk and walk, observing, studying, learning. You reach a steep granite wall and there is no way around it so you use all your strength to haul yourself up. You fall a few times before you finally get up, but you made it! You reach a thundering river, it overwhelms you with its sound but amazes you with it’s power. You sit on a rock for a while and although you like it here, you decide to find a place to cross and continue on.
You stroll along and come to a clearing with the most beautiful flowers. You decide to stay. Time to catch your breath and enjoy the surroundings. There is so much to see and do in this place! Perhaps you stay here forever, enjoying the view of the mountain peak that is now finally visible. Or maybe you wake up one day and feel like continuing your walk uphill.
And this is how it goes. Life is your journey up the mountain. A mountain that is forever changing terrain depending on where you are. There is beauty, different beauty, in every part of that mountain if you just take the time to look and observe. Any spot on that mountain can the best spot at that time. You cannot judge what the best spot is if you do not know what lies around the corner. This is why we must travel, and continue to move – or accept and enjoy where we are. You are a visitor on this mountain, a tourist of life.
This too is how i see (self)development. You are always changing just like the mountain terrain. At any moment you can be a best version of yourself if you are aware of who you are and where you stand. And sometimes it is ok to rest a while, and not continue to run up the mountain. Just slow down, you are ok, right now. There is much to be learned about where you are right now. The mountain will call, and you will get up and walk there when you are ready. And even if you decide to move back down the mountain, it’s not failing or going backwards. No, it is heading back with new insight, a new view. Looking up or down, the view changes with a different perspective. You don’t need to be at the top to be the best version of yourself. Just enjoy where you are.
“When are you the best version of yourself?”, I say, “right now”!
- Postcard: December 2009 – Dubai – steps in the sand of the Empty Quarter.
- Picture: October 2015 – near Symbochen – walking in the mountains.