"Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of someone else." – Judy Garland, born Frances Ethel Gumm, American actress and singer, died as result of intentional or unintentional overdose of barbiturates (1922-1969)
Why are we quoting Judy Garland here? Wasn’t she a troubled individual, prone to all sorts of emotional difficulties, attempted suicides, abuse of prescription medications and other assorted medical ailments? While this is probably a more or less accurate description of the actress and singer, it certainly is nowhere near the sum total of who Judy Garland was. In fact, she was an extraordinarily talented woman who gave immense pleasure to others who watched her on the movie screen or listened to her sing.
Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean that they are in any way immune to problems of substance abuse, or mental health conditions, or physical ailments, or a combination of any and all of these. A famous individual is just like the rest of us in that he or she may very easily become addicted, have repeated relapses, go in and out of treatment facilities, and fight valiantly to attain and maintain sobriety, all with one degree of success or other.
The heart of the quote by Judy Garland here is what is important. Think about our lives, about who we are and who we want to be. We should always strive to be the best that we can be. No one should ever "just settle" for second-best or a second-rate copy of somebody else. What’s the point in that? There certainly isn’t any great reward for being a carbon copy. After all, we are all unique individuals. There isn’t one person that’s an exact duplicate of another – not even identical twins. There are always differences. We each have unique talents and backgrounds and hopes and dreams. We speak differently. We look different. We feel things differently. Why, then, would we ever want to be just like someone else?
Okay, let’s look at this from a little different perspective for a moment. Of course, there are attributes of others that we would like to emulate. If we admire someone, say, our sponsor or someone else who has achieved a lasting and successful sobriety, has overcome great odds and tremendous obstacles in his or her recovery and has achieved a sense of peace and happiness, we are naturally inclined to want to have the same sort of experience for ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with this. It doesn’t mean that we’re trying to be an exact copy of that person, only that we would like to emulate the best of what that person displays. In other words, they are more like mentors or role models to us. They help inspire us, motivate us to keep up the hard work of recovery, and give us a clear indication that recovery does work – if we work our recovery.
That is the real lesson here, if we’re looking for a daily inspiration. Strive to be the best that we can be. Figure out our strengths and make use of them. Determine our weaknesses and learn how to shore them up, to develop new insights and skills and use them to allow us to make further progress. If it seems too difficult at times, don’t be discouraged. Everything that we learn helps us grow. As we grow, we move closer toward attainment of our dreams – the stuff that is the real deal inside us. We’re not trying to be someone else, not even a close second. We are being us, first, foremost, and always.