It’s not an easy question to answer. Quite apart from the fact that the term better person is a bit of a misnomer, it then makes you question if you were a good person five years ago. The point of this article is not to determine whether I was a moral or immoral person, but rather to speak of the ways in which I’m able to measure my personal growth.
I have to be honest. I look back at the person I was five years ago and it almost feels like a different person. It’s a rather jarring thought, as I can look at pictures of myself in 2017 and notice that I haven’t changed all that much. Sure, there are a few more wrinkles and grey hairs, but I virtually look the same as I do now. However, where the overt changes do become apparent is when I think back to memories from 2017 and thereabouts, consider the actions I took and the way in which I spoke.
This isn’t my way of bashing the 26-year-old version of me, but some of the decisions he made were beyond comprehension. He lacked confidence and loved to put himself down. He’d blame himself long before he’d consider that the fault might lay at another’s door. He looked at the world in a rather fickle, mundane sort of way. He hadn’t experienced very much of the world, and so his view of foreign lands was either that they simply had to be better than England, or they were just as miserable, as that was just the way the world was. He viewed others cynically; everyone wanted something from him. If a stranger showed him any kindness, they had ulterior motives. I suppose that a major reason for that was that I had ulterior motives when it came to everyone else.
Of course, I’m not saying I was a terrible person. The vast majority of people are far too complex to categorise as devils or saints. I was flawed, sure, and had my fair share of vices, but I wasn’t a bad person by any stretch of the imagination. I just had a lot to learn.
For me, true growth occurs when you’re able to come to these realisations. If you’re able to sit down, look back at the past, and notice your own mistakes and flaws, there’s a good chance that you have grown as a person. Self-awareness is one of the most important traits a person can have, at least in my estimation. If you’re able to reflect upon your actions (or inactions) and pick out where you went wrong, then you’re well on your way to bettering yourself.
Of course, I’m still not perfect. Of course, I never will be. The most crucial thing is to aim to be the best person you can at any given moment. That doesn’t mean you’ll ever be perfect, but it does mean you can be proud of yourself for always trying your best.
When I look back at the me of 2017, I want to be his friend. I want to give him advice and point him in the right direction. I’m sure that the me of 2027 will say the same thing about my current self. I realise I still have a long way to go on my journey on Earth, and that with every year I will keep trying to improve myself. Beyond those two basic realisations, the future is a mystery.
“Am I a better person than I was five years ago?”
I think, having said all that I’ve stated, I believe that I am. I’ve learned to be kinder, more patient, more empathetic, and I’ve gained a lot of personal confidence. I stopped telling myself that I couldn’t do things and allowed myself to take greater risks. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.