Okay it's confession time again.
Last time it was my tendency to be an 'Ambiguityphobe', (to which I have since been contacted by many readers with a similar penchant).
Today I can reveal my 'Chameleonesque' proclivity!
Before I venture on, the reason I confess these extremely personal traits, is in moments of quiet reflection, they become apparent, providing succour as to why I behave the way I do, say the things I do, do the things I do. In short enable me to accept who I am, in turn removing the constant voices in my head telling me that I'm a 'loser', 'weak', 'old school', even 'anti-social'!
Okay, so back to the Chameleon. We all know what a chameleon is and it's unique skill; that being to adapt it's skin colouring and tone to blend in with it's current surroundings, so as to camouflage it from its aggressor.
In my case this Chameleon characteristic is all about blending in with the point of view of another person; in short agreeing with their stand on an issue. It could be politics, sport, religion, inclusivity, even beer preference!
Why? Mainly two reasons. The first being my Anglo-upbringing. In a nutshell I was brought up in a conservative, (big and small 'c'), community, with a high value placed on the 'non-contradiction' of others; especially those older than me and most definitely not other family members. In other words go along with what they're saying, even if you don't agree, or your recollection of the story is different to that being told. (The old 'never let the truth get in the way of a good story' syndrome!)
The main premise for this 'non-contradiction' was so as not to appear to be rude or disrespectful to the other person. We are talking Southern England in the 1960's and early 1970's. (No wonder the Hippy movement was in it's ascendency!)
The second reason being a 'self defense' mechanism. I was never a fighter. Had I known the word Pacifist in my formative years then I would undoubtedly have been one! I ended up with one to many bloody noses, or sore stomachs, following yet another pounding, simply to provide entertainment to the school bullies, that my only defense was to acquiesce; to agree with their dictates; holding my tongue as opposed to holding a handkerchief to my nose to stem the flow of blood!
I actually became very good at being a Chameleon! So much so that I took it with me into my adult life. Be it in my career or in my social life, it was so much easier to 'tow the line' than to oppose, even contradict.
Without doubt I was viewed as friendly, sociable, easy going, even malleable.
However I also found that attractive as these qualities are, employers do want to engage with someone with opinions of their own, with someone who is happy to shake up the status quo. Also friends and acquaintances want to interact with someone who is willing to debate their particular view; to participate in a discussion in which there is some heat and passion over a point of difference!
Don't get me wrong. I have tried to battle this Chameleonism, 'spoken up, challenged the status quo, stood up for the greater good', but it has always been mentally draining; filling me with anxiety; at the end of the day leaving me feeling like I was selling myself short, not being me! A recipe for a breakdown!
In summary, my inability to be this person has no doubt cost me career promotions and long term friendships. Not to say that I was not promoted, I was, on average every 3 or 4 years within my 36 year career. Also I do have many wonderful friends and acquaintances, however long term friends being countable on one, hand!
Confession over! This missive, in the guise of a blog, is not intended as a self serving, sympathy seeking epitaph, more an opportunity to let you know it's okay to be you.
We have all been moulded by influences and events throughout our lives. Those that have a lasting impact are those we incur during our formative years, (the period of physical and psychological development from the onset of puberty to adulthood; a transitional period of development between an initial or early phase and an established or mature phase).
From a mental health well being perspective, accepting these traits is far better than denying them. Trust me, I know! When I, at the grand age of 60 look back, I really value the friendships I had, and now have. I value the career I had and the many wonderful people I was fortunate to meet and work alongside. These are the memories I cherish, all of them as a result of me being a Chameleon!
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