My Spirit Animal Is a Chameleon
783 words. A 4 minute read.
I almost didn’t write here this morning. I took out my notebook, made my cup of coffee, and was about to put pen to paper when I asked myself why I didn’t want to write on the blog. I told my friend J about this blog yesterday, after we made a clumsy first recording of a podcast we’ve been talking about for a while. You see, now someone knows I’m writing. It’s easier for me to now just write about the inane shit and superficial crap in my notebook than it is to write here. Now that someone knows who this is behind the site, I can feel a filter forming around the words I want to write.
This was something J and I spoke about yesterday. She also keeps a blog and said that as soon as she started getting followers, she began to think about her audience and considered what they wanted to read. I find myself thinking about this with just having her know about the blog (and I don’t even have any followers). Is this just the natural progression of writing publicly?
Instead of writing in my journal, I put it away, popped open Vim (I can’t write on the web; I need my text editor. What can I say? I’m a developer at heart), and started to type these words. For much of my life, I have let other people form my decisions. I don’t mean they have made them for me. No, rather I have let their expectations—or what I _thought_ their expectations were—dictate what I did or how I should feel. My spirit animal is a chameleon; I felt I have melted into whatever the person opposite of me needed from me. This was never more apparent than in my marriage.
If you spoke to my friends, I think they would tell you I’m delirious for stating such a claim. I have a strong personality and I’m not too quiet. At work a year or so ago, I was talking up a storm and I looked at my coworker. “I just realized I am not a quiet person,” I said to him. He looked at me and chuckled. “No, no you are not a quiet person,” he said. But I still feel I alter myself more than I would if I was confident in who I was—who I am.
Is this something everyone feels?
One of my friends, C, is undeniably herself no matter the circumstances. No matter the space, no matter the occasion, she is unabashedly herself. I adore her for it; I want to be more like her. If she’s my one case of being remarkably yourself all the time, then not everyone feels like a chameleon. Then again, maybe she would say the same thing I say. Maybe she feels like a fraud or self-conscious or uncertain of how to move forward some days.
I have placed limits on myself. These limits are for what? So that I don’t find myself in an uncomfortable situation? So I am not rejected? So I can pretend to be a different person for the benefit of someone else? Not being honest with myself and sharing my truth with those around me has caused pain and loss of friendships, losses of lovers and relationships. These past couple of years I’ve been truthful and honest with a handful of people. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone with them, become vulnerable, and our friendships have only grown stronger.
Writing in my paper journal today would have felt like a defeat. I am done altering my responses based on my external circumstances. Instead, I write here, even when I feel silly and dumb and worthless. It’s okay. I am not one instance, I am not one day, I am not one moment. Tomorrow may be better or it may be worse. But who cares? I just need to keep writing. I just need to keep doing what I want to do regardless of the world outside my door (or maybe in spite of the world outside my door, right?).
Like I wrote a few days ago, writing isn’t the goal. It’s the habit. It’s being comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s being okay with first thoughts (fuck the editor). It’s being okay with mistakes and false steps and stumbling and mediocrity. It’s being okay with showing yourself naked (metaphorically) and learning to love all of it. And, if you can’t love it, at least you can sit with your imperfection.
Learning to be comfortable with the bad parts of myself means I can be comfortable with the good parts as well. I want to see myself as a whole person.