Last week I was on a trip and a street handler came around with a real chameleon for people to hold and take pictures with. The gentleman next to me had a bright blue and green shirt on and as the chameleon grabbed hold of him, it turned the exact color of his shirt almost instantly. His family excitedly took pictures of the encounter while the handler commented on how quickly the chameleon was able to change its colors in order to fit in.
This got me thinking about how throughout most of my childhood and even some of my young adult life, I really wanted to fit in. I wanted to please my teachers, make sure I had a group of friends that liked me and wanted to leave a good reputation at work. I developed the skill of molding and morphing into any environment I was in. I was incredibly good at reading the room and figuring out who I had to be in order to be liked.
Although this skill had some benefits, I later learned it had a lot of negative consequences – both for me and even arguably for the people I was trying to please. At that time, I did not know how to deal with the fear of rejection and judgment or how to integrate shyness, so I used this skill as a psychological defense from having to confront those feelings – much like the Miami beach chameleon that was able to so quickly and effectively adapt to its surroundings, I changed my colors to fit in.
This was an unconscious act, but it was also very draining. I often dreaded outings that were meant to be fun because I guess on some level I was putting on a little bit of a performance. It led to me being indecisive and really unsure of who I really was. I was so used to deferring to others, I didn’t know how to lead.
Many of my early coaching sessions were focused on my desire to grow into who I really was and to do so unapologetically. Interestingly, this also included a lot of work in the ability to trust that other people can handle the real me. I have had to trust in other people’s power and not assume how they might act or think or react to what I had to do or say.
You see, I had forgotten that I was born worthy and loveable and that nothing could change that – not bad grades, getting invited to a party, or not having someone agree with me. I had to get to the place that I would never reject myself, judge myself, or be shy or inhibited with myself.
This is where I truly found myself and the inherent worthiness that I possess. And guess what? YOU possess it, too!
This journey has had many risks, but far more many rewards. Sure, I have lost some friendships and annoyed some people along the way. But at the end of the day those simply weren’t “my people”, and I would trade that for the freedom and self-love I have for myself any day of the week.
Do you struggle with being a social chameleon, too? If so, I would love to remind you of your inherent worthiness and help you find the true freedom of expression! On our journey together, I’ll help you end people-pleasing and this unconscious morphing once and for all so you can instead welcome radical self-love, acceptance, and true confidence into your life. And if this doesn’t resonate with you but you know someone who may benefit, please feel free to share! You can schedule a sacred hour with me here so we can connect on this or any other life goal you may have.
“Change the world by being yourself” – Amy Poehler
Mind Your Strength,
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.