Why it is better to “Be the best version of yourself”, Instead of “Be yourself”

Adeola Afolayan
3 min readMar 2, 2020

When I was much younger, I would say to anyone who is looking to try something new, “Be Yourself”.

For instance, if a friend of mine is looking to address an audience, I’d say “Be Yourself, don’t try to be like anyone else”. These two words used to be one of my many pieces of advice to friends, siblings, and acquaintances. Then something happened.

Now, it is not entirely wrong to “be yourself”. You are unique and no one can be you.

Well, let’s just say I became more experienced as I grew up. I would no longer take this advice even from myself. I don’t give it to anyone either.

For the sake of context, I don’t mean you should live by mimicking the lifestyle, habits or character of someone else. That may lead to depression or being sad. You may lose your own self-worth.

Remember, you are unique, you are not supposed to be anyone else. You can make do with resources around you like books, videos, and people to become the best at anything. Even better than anyone ever existed.

I remember telling a friend who wanted to address an audience back then at the university to go out there and be herself! I told her not to try to be like anybody else. I also reminded her that she can never be me and I can never be her. That’s how much and how dearly I believed in that idea.

Of course, the things I said were true. The “not so good” thing about this advice is that it may prevent her from seeking other resources that will improve her public speaking skills.

She may not take an extra step to learn the rudiments of public speaking. She could simply muster up the confidence, be herself and present her speech.

Meanwhile, she could have learned one or two extra tips to help her perform better If she had sought to become a better version of herself. Confidence is good, and that is what this advice portrays. But confidence without knowledge is misleading.

Today, I would rather say to my friend to “strive to be the best version of herself”.

I would tell my friend to look out for people who have accomplished success in what she’s trying to do. I would encourage her to read about them, reach out to them to understand how they did it and learn from them.

Because this will help her learn the reasons why things are done in a particular way. She will save lots of trial and error time. She will be able to leverage the experience of others and achieve success faster.

Dear friend, whatever it is you are looking to do, give it your best shot, strive to be the best version of yourself by building upon the success of others then add your own uniqueness.