The Best Version of Yourself

Despite the awesomeness that is Jerry Maguire, Colin Wright takes issue with the phrase, “You complete me.”:

Even though it’s generally uttered in a complimentary context, the implication is that the person saying it to you was not whole before you came along. […]

In my mind, one should never be incomplete, if one can avoid it. One should be whole by oneself. One should be 1.

And that means, that when two complete people — two people who would be living wonderful lives without each other — are together, the math stays integered and wonderful, but also magically increases in value. Your 1 and their 1 doesn’t equal 2. You end up with 3. Or 7. Or 229.

Why does it work this way? Because if you have a good relationship with someone else — any kind of relationship — you both become better versions of yourselves for having that other person in your life. We’re all 1′s, if we’re self-aware and live our lives to the fullest. If I find someone who adds to my life, who causes me to be a better version of myself, I might become a 4.

I had lunch with my friend Rich today, and after we parted ways, I found myself thinking that he tends to bring out a better version of myself. I don’t know why. Something about our friendship inspires confidence and camaraderie. Invincibility.

I consider myself a fairly self-aware person, and I believe — as I think Colin does — that one shouldn’t rely on anything or anyone for happiness.

After all, my favorite quote is:

You must love yourself before you can love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.

I believe this issue has two components.

The first is to know oneself.

The second is to surround oneself with individuals who are equally self-aware, and who are thus capable of augmenting that version of yourself to a degree that surpasses anything we might achieve on our own.

There are no concrete steps on the path to knowing oneself. I do know that it requires deep introspection and a lot of time and patience. At least it did for me.

To take up Colin’s numerical analogy, 1 might be the highest level of completion an individual can attain without anyone else’s help. And it can be very difficult to become a 1.

Some — perhaps most — people float through life without ever examining themselves, without ever questioning, “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?” “Why am I this way?” I’m sure ignorance is bliss in their case.

But as Socrates said:

The unexamined life is not worth living.

As we become more self-aware, we present a more complete version of ourselves to others. Present-day Andrew is more complete than the Andrew from two years ago, who was more complete than college Andrew, who was on his way to becoming much more complete than high school Andrew. And tomorrow Andrew will be more complete than today Andrew.

I know more today than I did yesterday.

Provided that we never stop searching for a complete sense of self, every moment that passes brings us a tiny bit closer to realizing who we are.

With that self-awareness comes the ability to offer the most confident and loving version of yourself to others.

This is me, today.

And while it’s nice to imagine two incomplete people becoming complete together, perhaps we are better suited to doing so on our own.

But if I can find someone equally self-aware, and our two fully-realized selves meet and complement each other, I believe a bond can be formed that transcends everyday friendship.

Since today I am the most self-aware I have ever been (until tomorrow, anyway), I want to surround myself with people who can take my 1 and multiply it. I may be a 1 on my own, but a particular friendship or relationship may turn me into a 5 or a 10.

I want to surround myself with people who inspire me to be better. To do things I otherwise would never dream of. To make me unafraid. That’s the barometer by which I gauge my relationships.

Does this person make me a better version of myself?

Most people won’t, and they can be let go. Eliminate the unnecessary.

But once in a while, someone comes along who makes you better.

Meeting these people is rare. So when I encounter one, I cherish that relationship. I sometimes wish I had more of them, but it’s that scarcity that makes them so precious.

This is a meandering and largely nonsensical post. But being out on your own comes with a lot of alone time, and it makes you realize how valuable certain people are in your life. And it makes you realize who you want to keep around.

Become who you really are. Which is amazing.

Then find those who make who you are even better.

And take over the world together.

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