Be Your Best

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Updated August 17, 2001
© Mark Canada, 2001
mark.canada@uncp.edu

He was just a man. Like you, he went to college.  Later, he became a minister, married, and had four children.  He had a playful side.  At 39, he got into a pillow fight with some colleagues in a hotel room in Memphis.  But Martin Luther King Jr. was more than just a man.  He became more by educating himself, by leading a bus boycott and a march on Washington, by overcoming racism, jail time, even the bombing of his home.  For his enormous contributions to civil rights, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize and a national holiday. 

She was just a woman. As a girl, she coped with sickness, followed her mother around, and threw a tantrum or two.  But Helen Keller was more than just a woman.  Despite that sickness, which left her both blind and deaf before she turned two, she learned to read and to write, eventually graduating with honors from Radcliffe College.  She wrote articles for major magazines, published several books, and lectured around the world. 

Can you be anything you wish?  Born in 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. stood little chance of being a lunar astronaut, just as Helen Keller would never become an airline pilot.  No, you probably can't be anything.  But you can be more.  You can be your best.  Your best is not necessarily the world's best or your parents' best or your friends' best.  It's your best: the best person you can possibly be.  Only you know what your best is.  And even you may not know yet.  Will you be a social worker who turns families around? a musician who elevates people's spirits? a scientist who brings the world closer to a clean environment or a medical cure?  You have time to decide.  Start now.  Ask yourself some questions:  What do I like to do?  What do I feel compelled to do?  What makes me feel fulfilled?  If I could choose anything to do for 40 hours a week for the next 40 years, what would I choose?  You may discover more than one answer.  After all, being your best means more than finding a good career.  When you are not at work counseling a troubled teen or making a business run smoothly, you may be striving for your best time in the marathon, expressing yourself in an elegant poem, campaigning for a candidate or a cause, or--perhaps most important of all--building a strong foundation for your children.  You have many abilities and many bests to pursue.

College is the perfect place to begin your pursuit.  Indeed, the money that you or your parents spend on a four-year college education is one of the best investments you will ever make. Many college students make the mistake, however, of thinking that they are merely paying for a diploma. While a college diploma can be a source of great pride and can help you land a good job, the real reward of college is an education: a wealth of new knowledge and skills, for example, and endless opportunities to enrich your life. Of course, what you get out of an investment depends on what you put into it. This site can help you to be your best--to get the most out of your college career by using your tools, your time, and your mind in the most productive ways possible.

Here's a suggestion for getting started: Over the next four years and perhaps the rest of your life, pause before making every decision--about your career, about your health, about your friends, about anything--and ask yourself: "Will doing this help me to be my best?"  Then, at the end of each day, ask yourself: "Have I been my best today?"  If so, reward yourself with some free time, a small prize, or just some much-deserved satisfaction.  If not, ask yourself why and learn from the experience.

You deserve your best.  Be it.