About 15 years ago, there was a highly anticipated professional wrestling match between two of the best wrestlers in history, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho. The storyline of this match was that growing up, Jericho idolized Michaels, but now wanted to surpass him and become the better performer. It was here, during one of Chris Jericho’s promos that he said something that has always stuck with me: “I grew out of wanting to be the next Shawn Michaels, and I concentrated on becoming the first Chris Jericho.” Putting personal feelings about professional wrestling aside, that comment is quite profound. Here is a man, who was trying to be someone else only to realize that his best course of action was to become the best, and first, version of himself.
We often find ourselves wanting to be other people. Whether it be good looks, fame, money, or luck, there are always people who appear to have what we want. It is easy to attempt to emulate these people’s traits and characteristics. It is easy to want to become the next Beyonce, Brad Pitt, or Mark Zuckerberg. They are are rich, famous and successful. Why not try to be just like them? It relieves us of the burden of trying to carve our own path and make our own decisions. We can just do what they do. However, they didn’t become that person by trying to be like someone else. They reached that status because they focused on becoming the first version of themselves.
Becoming the first version of yourself is incredibly difficult. There is no roadmap to becoming yourself because no one has ever done it before. No one has ever become you, and no one ever will again. To become the first version of yourself, you need to determine what type of person you want to become, what you will stand for, and what you desire to accomplish while alive on this earth. It also means, doing what makes you happy, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. It means going against the crowd, going left when everyone you know is going right. It means doing something because it is what you want to do, not because it is what society is telling you to do.
I myself have often struggled with this problem. I have always strived to be me, do what makes me happy and what I believe is right. I listen to music I enjoy, not what is popular. I eat foods I like, not what everyone else likes. I could care less what anyone else thinks about any of the choices that I make. I have never tried to be the next Ryan Gosling, Kevin James, or Mark Cuban. I have always focused on becoming the first Kyle Grappone.
So, I ask you this question. Who are you trying to be like? Do you behave the way you do because it’s what the cool kids are doing? Do you make sure your interests are in line with what social media and the masses tell you it should be? Do you find yourself trying to copy the behaviors and actions of celebrities or acquaintances whose life you wish you had? If you do, you will only end up becoming a dollar store version of them, and no one is going to buy that version.
Be yourself. Find what makes you happy, and do it. It doesn’t matter if it makes anyone else happy. Determine what you are passionate about, seek it out, hunt it down, and capture it. Figure out what kind of impact you want to make on your family, friends, community and the world, and then spend every day trying to make that impact. Become the first version of yourself, and let others try to become a dollar store version of you.
I’m a youth/education public speaker and blog author. My goal is to use these mediums to inspire high school and college students to think differently about the next steps in their lives and choices they are going to make.
The views expressed in this blog and all my content are mine and do not reflect the views and opinions of any companies and/or educational institutions I have had current or past connections with.