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Most of us spend most of our time trying to do the right thing... At least, I hope we do, or I am more of an oddball than I thought. But sometimes we say things or do things we shouldn't. Maybe we are frustrated, upset, or just plain selfish. That doesn't mean it's who we are, but it does mean we make mistakes. It can be hard when you spend so much of your time doing the right thing, and suddenly you snap and do something wrong. It's especially worse when sometimes that selfish thing you did will be the only thing that a certain person sees of you. Maybe you met somebody on a bad day and your perception of them consists entirely of who they were that day. Maybe somebody who came across as an awful person was just struggling when you met them. Then again, maybe they just aren't very nice.
What I'm trying to say is that our perceptions of each other are just that — they're ideas conceived from things we've collected as facts about people. These can often be wrong; imagine most of us have had experiences where every time we saw a certain person we did something dumb, or every time we've met someone else we were in a really bad mood and more snappy than usual. It's important to consider how we would think about a person if they behaved as we have at times.
We are all trying; nobody wants to be seen as mean or grumpy, tolerance is vital to understanding and getting along with each other. It's impossible to be your best self all of the time, and it's important to remember that if you try you're likely to be confronted with a meltdown at some stage. But actually, if you spend your time doing the right things, then there really is no reason why you should't cut yourself some slack sometimes. It's really okay.
We can never permanently be our best selves. I mean, we could publicly, I suppose. But in doing so we're denying ourselves crucial social interactions and the necessity of just being ourselves. It's important to be accepting — and realise what we shouldn't accept — from others, furthering our social awareness and helping us to greater understand those around us. If we are all hiding behind barriers we create for ourselves for fear of portraying ourselves in a negative light, we are not being true to who we are, and are therefore forfeiting exactly how comfortable and positive we could be if we were behaving naturally —albeit not always entirely pleasantly.
So yes, while we all could be better versions of ourselves all of the time, the stress in keeping up this persona is really not worth it for the sake of the perceptions people you barely know hold about you. The most important thing for us all is that we are comfortable in being ourselves, and we are not repressing the version of ourselves that we want to express for the benefit of others who barely notice anyway. We could all do a little better, but if you are interested in being a better person, do it for yourself. We have no reason to be better for other people if we know our intentions are in the right place. Remembering this is also true of the people around us makes us more aware, and more forgiving towards their apparent flaws.
Worrying about perception and judgement changes when you realise it's a two way street. Perhaps we all worry far too much, but some of us forget during our daily rush. I wonder how and I wonder why, but some people truly do seem free of excessive worry, and of those people I am jealous. But not too jealous, for jealousy is an ugly emotion. Instead try tolerance; learn how to be your most comfortable self, learn how to read others without writing them off too quickly. I think in the end our social fears can be good for us, although they may not seem it. You get a sense of pride or accomplishment that's just for you when you achieve something you thought you would always be scared of. Don't be shy of the person you want to be. Don't worry about being 'better' for other people. Be considerate of others and yourself always.