We’ve all heard it before. “Just be yourself!” Whether it’s your parents telling you that you’re fine just the way you are, or a girl telling you to just “be yourself,” every single one of us has been told this before. And the truth is, a lot of people struggle with being themselves. But, it isn’t that simple — sometimes you want to be yourself, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s not. Depending on who I’m talking to, “just be yourself,” could actually be the worst advice in existence. But, if I’m talking to someone else, it could actually be the best advice in existence. Here’s why. “Just be myself? Okay!” Say that we have an 18 year old man (or rather, boy). He probably isn’t very healthy, muscular, happy, wealthy, or emotionally grounded, because most men in our society aren’t really taught how to be functional men. So do you know what telling him to “just be yourself” would do? Would it help him improve, and unlock higher states of consciousness? Or maybe it would help him develop his body through exercise, his mind through reading, and his emotions through self-exploration! No. Telling him to “just be yourself!” would cripple his growth and give him a justification to just remain a lazy slug. When you tell somebody who is, generally speaking, not very successful at life to “just be yourself,” they typically view it as an excuse not to change. Why bother putting in hours at the gym when you should just be yourself? Why bother meditating to become more focused when you should just be yourself? Why bother working out and putting effort into your appearance when you should just be yourself? Do you see why this advice is so fucking terrible? By telling someone to “just be yourself,” you remove any and all reason to change. People need to realize that “just being yourself” isn’t good enough—you should always be striving to evolve and grow as a human being. You must seek to improve your body, your mind, your emotions, and your lifestyle. there are plenty of paradoxes in self-development. You must be goal-oriented, but enjoy the process. You must be humble, yet proud. You must focus on your body, but focus on your mind. One of the most important paradoxes in self-development, is learning to be yourself while simultaneously striving to be the best version of yourself. This is very difficult to do, however. Most people take it way too far—they just stay on one end of the spectrum and don’t ever achieve balance in this realm. The vast majority of people stay on the “I don’t need to change,” end of the spectrum, and don’t ever really accomplish anything worthwhile. They just wander through life, never really changing the world (or themselves). On the other end of the spectrum you have people who become obsessed with changing, and it becomes a dysfunctional addiction. They feel like they always have to be better, stronger, wealthier, and more sociable. The key is to find a balance. Understand that changing yourself for the better is a great thing to do. Always be improving yourself—to stagnate is to die. But at the same time, accept yourself, flaws and all. Don’t get angry because you aren’t where you want to be. Don’t judge yourself for not being good enough. Once you achieve this harmonious balance, ironically enough, you will start to improve exponentially, because you aren’t dragged down by negative emotions or apathy. We SHOULD say: “Be The Best Version of Yourself” This is a better way of putting it. Don’t just “be yourself”—strive to be the very best version of yourself. Are you naturally athletic, but lack intelligence? Then maybe you should work on your intellect by reading some of the best books out there for men. Or maybe you’re naturally smart, but aren’t very strong? Then maybe you should work on your body by lifting weights and doing cardio a few days a week. Accept yourself for who you are, and strive to improve your weaknesses. We’re all imperfect, and that’s just fine. Being perfect is overrated. So rather than trying to be perfect, just try to be the best version of yourself.