One expression that is often used (although my first recollection of hearing it was from Matthew Kelly) is to work on becoming “…the best version of yourself.”
And since then, the concept has stuck with me, as I work on myself personally, professionally, physically, and of course, spiritually.
And yet, as I’ve walked and tripped along that path, I have come to realize that “achieving your best self” is inherently paradoxical, when considered in the context of continuous personal growth. The moment you think you’ve achieved your “best self,” (typically when reaching a milestone objective of some sort, such as achieving a health goal, earning a new degree, or even receiving a Sacrament), you encounter (or discover) new opportunities for growth and development.
And suddenly the goal post has been pushed further away.
I must admit, this constant state of growth, with a realization that one can truly never achieve that state in this life can be both exhilarating and exhausting.
But for me, it’s become an important lesson, especially as I get older and I occasionally fall into the trap of pondering the things I have not yet accomplished. I use the term trap, because sometimes those reflections can be good (leading to positive action), or they can simply be the devil whispering in my ear (leading to self-pity and despair).
Which begs the question: When will I become the best version of myself? When will you?
As a Catholic, I would suggest that there are two possible answers:
- In this Life: Each and every day, as we are striving to be our best, acknowledging that indeed the goal post continues to be pushed further ahead. That goal is ultimately realized on this earth in the legacy we leave behind, and in all the roles in which we served.
- In the Next Life: Our existence on Earth is merely a blip in Eternity. Every one of us must be aiming for Heaven (and to invite as many people as we can to join us).
Only when we reach that place (which we refer to as sainthood – lower case) will we truly become the best version of ourselves…as God intended us to be.