The Art of Being a Chameleon

There is one thing that really annoys me. And that is my constant need to be liked by others.

Why does it matter so much to me when I feel other people don’t like me, or when I feel like I am not living up to their expectations? And I am not talking just about people I know; I even feel the need to be liked by people I dont even know either.

I have all these demands on me. I have to be a good son. I have to be a good uncle. I have to be a good employee. I have to be a good friend, neighbour, citizen, co-worker, team member, student. I always have to be GOOD. I have to follow the rules. Do what people tell me. Avoid confrontation. Avoid criticism. And beat up on myself if I feel like I have done something bad. I sometimes feel like a puppy dog.

But I am worse than a puppy dog. I am a chameleon. My colours change in accordance with who I am supposed to be in any particular time or space. I am whatever THEY want me to be. My personality changes. WHO I AM CHANGES.

When I am with my friends, I have to be witty and funny, even when I feel miserable inside. When my family makes demands on my time, I accommodate them, even when I have my own stuff I want to do. When my employer takes advantage of me I let him, because I am not a person who says “No” even when I should.

I was in a shop the other day, waiting to get served. A woman comes in and hustles past me to the counter. She doesn’t believe in queues, or waiting, or manners. She is in a rush to be somewhere else. Her time is more important than mine. I fume in silence. But why don’t I speak up? Why don’t I say “Excuse me…there’s a queue here.” Why don’t I stand up for myself?

Because I am afraid of people looking at me or laughing at me. I am afraid of confrontation. I am afraid of what people might THINK of me. My pet demon FEAR makes me doubt myself. Should I be angry? Or am I being irrational in being angry? Will other customers go home and tell their families about this crazy guy who caused a scene in the shop because a woman skipped in front of him by accident…..I don’t know….no-one else seems to mind having to wait a bit longer…..I just want outta this shop….just let her away with it, its not worth the trouble……

So I wait like the good customer I am. I change my colour. And I fume. And my other demon RAGE eats my soul.

Why DO I CARE?? Why do I have this unendless need to live up to unspoken expectations, be who I think others want me to be? To be liked? Fit in? Conform? Be good?

Because I am a coward – I have no self-esteem or self-respect. So the only way to live my life is to gain esteem and respect from others. And that is NO way to live. And because of my upbringing. I was taught to have manners, to put myself last, to be seen and not heard, to do what I was told. I sometimes feel like I am still a child.

When I am finished shedding my skin, my chameleon will be shed with it. He’s nice. But boring.