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Not Better, Only Who I Am

·621 words·3 mins·
2022 quote
Jerry S
Jerry S
Table of Contents


Sometimes we don’t get a chance to be better, we only get a chance to be who we are. - Jerry S


I was sitting at work one day and I had a nagging distraction reel going on in my mind. My reflections on my own behavior kept pulling me towards events of my past. I know I can end up being hard on myself when I could have done something better, when I could have been a better person. So I reflect and think about my own actions, see them differently, and try to change myself if I think it will make me better.

As I sat working, suddenly, this popped into my head: Sometimes we don’t get a chance to be better, we only get a chance to be who we are.

I quickly Googled for the quote and couldn’t find anything like it. I didn’t do a thorough search through the Internet’s closet, but I’m sure someone somewhere has had the same life lesson taught to them.

You can dress it up with some positive bullshizzle if you want to feel extra “compassionate” towards yourself or if you want to “look on the bright side”: “My better is not someone else’s better”; “It just wasn’t meant to be”; “learn to let go of the things that aren’t for us”; “I should accept myself for who I am.”

Regardless of how you try to twist the message into some positive mutant of itself, the core of it remains. There are times where we don’t get a second chance and we can only be our crappy, unfortunate, not-enough selves.

I don’t get extra time to become better and be up to the challenge.

I fail.

Jorge Luis Borges

It reminded me a quote that I’ve read before in Jorge Luis Borges’ writings:

I felt what we feel when someone dies: the distress, altogether useless by then, that it would have cost us nothing to have been better.

Jorge Luis Borges

In hindsight it seems like it might not have cost us anything, but being better does have a cost. It can involve reflecting for a long time without coming to any definitive answer. Epiphanies might flow in and shed a pale light and give us the merest glimpse of “better”. Those epiphanies are not enough.

I must want to better. I must try to be better. I must fail at being better. I must put those epiphanies and realizations into action. Even then it might not be enough. How do we know when it’s enough? Our lives gets better, almost as if by magic.

Note: There are ways to tell of course and you can read about them in this article about how to tell if therapy is working. Magic always sounds better :-). Even if you don’t go to therapy, if you’re a person that has a growth mindset you can use some of the same criteria in the article to measure improvements in your life. You can also make up your own measurements, though that takes some skill and discipline to not lie to yourself about the things you can improve and are actually improving.

Parting words - Someone I knew

Someone I used to know said to me once, “I wish I had had more time to work on myself. I wish I had had more time to be better.”

Well, me too, but sometimes I don’t get a chance to be better. I only get a chance to be who I am. That’s all I ever truly get.

Sometimes I don’t get a chance to be better, I only get a chance to be who I am. - Jerry S