I have this skill... it makes me incredibly good at my job and relatively likable. This is a skill I developed at a young age and fostered into my adult hood. However, as the years tick past I realize that, perhaps, this is a skill I need to rethink.
I am talking about the skill of ‘fitting in’.
In Daring Greatly Brene Brown talks about the difference between ‘fitting in’ and ‘belonging’. As I sat on the airplane reading this section (the final section of the book) I found my eyes filling with tears... Her studies defined the two ways of 'being' as follows-
Fitting in- Being somewhere and becoming something others want/expect you to be in order to be accepted.
Belonging- Being fully accepted for who you are and having those around you truly care.
*insert me feeling 100% gutted*
Growing up I so desperately wanted to ‘fit in’; I got so distracted by the idea, that in the end I forgot who I truly was and became the real world version of Mystique, changing into exactly what the people around me expected or needed me to be... I was (am) a social chameleon.
Side note- this is not a healthy way to be a whole human being... just gunna throw that out there.
I made myself into the person I thought my family wanted me to be. I shoved my body into certain clothes, wore my hair a certain way, all to fit the different friend groups I bounced between (imagine a punk girl with black hair trying to wear Abercrombie... totally happened). My ability to ‘fit people’ made me incredibly successful as a stylist. Hairstylists, after all, are essentially therapists without a license and I played the role perfectly... ok, to be fair one of my unchangeable qualities (no matter who I was with) is that I am incredibly compassionate and naturally a care giver, I enjoy taking care of people and listening to their stories... the down side of this is that I don’t like hurting or upsetting people, I hate letting people down and/or disappointing them; hence my ever changing tendencies.
As I got older I was lucky to find people who gave me the grace to explore the truth of who I really was... people who gave me a sense of healthy belonging for the first time in my life. There was no shame attached to who I was, no fear of showing my true colors, because at the end of the day they still loved and accepted me... for ME.
I still struggle with the fear of ‘not fitting in’... I still get anxiety in certain social situations, and I doubt myself far more than I would like to admit. But I also am more myself than I ever have been and that is a beautiful feeling.
*An "Inherent vice" is the tendency in a physical object to deteriorate because of the fundamental instability of the components of which they are made, as opposed to deterioration caused by external forces... being a chameleon may just be my inherent vice.