You’re Not a Bad Person, But You Could Be Better

By Sean Lim:

Why are you not perfect yet? Go on, that wasn’t rhetorical. I’ll give you a couple of lines to think about your answer. You can even write it in the space provided if you are reading this on a print copy…


… so, if your answer was a humbling essay about how you have tried, through every avenue presented to you, to make yourself better in every way possible, then you shouldn’t continue reading this article. Good job. If, however, you had some halfhearted excuse or something silly like, “perfection is unattainable” you should keep reading (Smile face emoticon).

As people living in Canada, attending a government funded school, with our basic needs provided for us and with access to more information than ever before through the internet, we have no excuse as to why we are not better human beings than we are now. Don’t get angry though, because I know it is possible that some of you already are. Please try to bear with me till the end at least.

As a Grade 12 student, my attention has been drawn to applying for Universities/Colleges/Whatever. I have discussed this topic with my family, my friends and my peers. Something that astounds me is when I hear someone say, “I’m not the kind of person that Universities/Colleges/Whatever want”. This is silly because the obvious answer to this problem is, “Become someone that Universities/Colleges/Whatever want”. Again, don’t get mad just yet.

As I am also a human being, I’ve been in a position where I have felt inferior to someone because they were more athletic than me, or better looking than me, or smarter than me. The list can go on. At first I believed that this was fate. I believed in some odd, natural disposition these people possessed that made them better than me, until one day someone asked me the same question I asked you at the beginning of this: “Why are you not perfect yet?” I couldn’t answer. It had never occurred to me that the reason why I am not as athletic as that other person is because he puts in the effort to workout every other day. The reason I was not as good looking as that other other person was because he puts in the effort to make himself look good everyday. The reason why I was not as smart as that other other other person was because they study and seek to improve their knowledge every moment they are awake. It wasn’t that I was naturally inferior, it was that other people put in the effort to improve themselves and I didn’t.

That one hurt the personal morale a lot, but it was unfortunately the truth. When we look at people we often only see the end product. We only see that muscular guy that makes us feel bad about ourselves, and we don’t see the countless hours he put into working out, eating healthy and living a good lifestyle. In the same way, we only see that pretty girl (that we secretly have a crush on and are too afraid to talk to), and we don’t see how she wakes up an extra hour earlier so she can do her hair and pick out the perfect outfit for that day. The only thing that stops us from becoming better individuals is our lack of commitment to doing so.

Now I know you don’t want to hear this and that you are already putting up mental barriers to stop this from hitting home. You might try to focus on the messenger instead of the message. In this case that means that you are focusing on me instead of on what I am writing. You might be asking yourself what gives me the right to tell you that you need to be a better person. The answer is that nothing gives me that right. I am just as riddled with flaws as everyone else. I also have not spent every moment of my existence trying to make myself better, but this isn’t about me, it’s about you. If we always think about other people when we try to evaluate ourselves we will never get anywhere. There will always be someone better than you at something, but that doesn’t matter because this is about you being better than yourself.

You may also be trying to find some hole in my arguments, and when you do so you will declare that this whole article is a fallacy because of something I overlooked. Doing that is like saying that if you build a wall using one million red bricks and one green brick, then the whole wall is green.

We don’t like to change. Mental barriers like the ones I just described are put up to fight change. Change won’t be easy, I’m not saying that. In fact, I am saying how it will be hard and will require effort, and that the only reason why someone is better than you at something is because they put more effort into it than you wanted too.

With all that being said, this is not an article to make you feel bad about yourself. This article was written in the hope that the next time you are given a scenario in which you are faced with an opportunity for self-improvement, that you don’t ask yourself “Why?” and instead ask yourself “Why not?”.