I have a lot of friends. Friends from high school. Friends from college. Friends from graduate school. Friends from my time spent living in Michigan. And now friends from Remote Year. But I can tell you with complete and utter honesty that I highlight different aspects of myself depending upon the friend that I’m with or talking to.
I firmly believe that it’s something we all do, not necessarily because we don’t want to “be ourselves” around these different people, but because we have points of connection and common interests with people surrounding different things.
My friends from soccer? We tend to discuss soccer more than anything else.
My friends from science classes, grad school or lab?
My friends from Beachbody coaching? We tend to talk about coaching.
My friends from Remote Year? We tend to talk about Remote Year.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It’s natural that things that we originally connected with people over will be the thing that we gravitate toward when conversing with these people. But, it can mean that And I don’t know where I heard this originally, but I’ve taken to calling it The Chameleon Identity.
THE CHAMELEON IDENTITY.
I’ve found that some of the biggest things that interfere with our ability to take on a new identifier or label in our life are inauthenticity, perfectionism
So often, we try to present ourselves in a pretty little package to the new people we meet. We want to wrap ourselves in the best paper, perfectly creased and folded, with little embellishments that demonstrate the care and intention that was put into creating our lives. We want the way people see us (our wrapping paper) in
Think of it this way – how often do you describe what you do for work in the same manner? Oftentimes, you don’t! This is particularly the case if you love what you do! If you enjoy your work, if you’re passionate about it, you want the people you’re talking
When it comes to integrity…that can be a different beast all together…
When I made the decision to go on Remote Year, my sister-in-law’s brother made a comment
Integrity is huge for me. Part of why I have such follow-through on my goals is because I don’t want my integrity to come into question. I don’t’ ever want someone to look at me and say, “You said this…but now you’re not doing that anymore.” It’s a big reason why I struggled so much with leaving graduate school. I didn’t want my integrity to be called into question. I talk about this a bit more here. But…here’s the thing…
You’re allowed to change your mind. You’re allowed to change your focus. If we weren’t allowed to, what kind of crazy careers would we be doing in adulthood that we wanted so badly to be when we were kids? Astronauts? Professional athletes? Dogs and cats? I know this is an extreme example, but when you frame it that way, doesn’t it sound ridiculous? So many people make career changes. So many people get divorced. And sometimes those life transitions and changes are dramatic AF and are difficult. But we have to give ourselves permission to change. We have to give ourselves permission to change our mind.
Last, but not least….authenticity.
When we’re constantly changing our identifier, constantly highlighting and featuring different facets of ourselves and our personality…it’s understandable, but is it authentic? Maybe it is. Or maybe it isn’t. But, here’s something that we can all shoot for.
Goal: To be so unapologetic about who I am and the identifiers that
BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN WE UNDERGO A CHANGE IN IDENTITY?
So often in our lives, we experience shifts in our identity. It can be something simple like a change in
For me, I really struggled with leaving science and my doctoral program behind. There was so much about being a scientist that validated my own sense of worthiness. People generally tend to be respectful of you when you tell them you’re getting your
Coaching, on the contrary, does not necessarily carry this kind of respect. In fact, for many of the people in my life and many of the haters I’ve encountered, they question its validity as
So, what helped?
So much of what made this transition easier for me was being in a new place and around new people. In the midst of making this transition, I was thrust into a community of 50 strangers halfway across the world. These people had no preconceived notions about who I was or where I came from and, in that regard, it gave me a clean slate. For these people, my labels and identifiers weren’t changing. It was all they ever
That’s my biggest advice to someone going through a difficult life transition; a transition where letting
If you’ve never run before…join a running group and the people there will identify you as a runner.
If you’ve never crafted before…go to the
It doesn’t matter what your change in identity is! If you put yourself amongst new people who don’t know any different, you give yourself that blank slate. They’ll adopt your new identity, no questions asked and that’s extremely helpful!
ADOPTING NEW IDENTIFIERS…
When I recorded a podcast on identity with my good friend, Kathleen, we came upon an interesting question: “At what point can you adopt a new identifier or label?” We were talking about it in the context of training for a half marathon. When reading a forum on running, somebody asked, “At one point can I call myself a runner? I’m new at this. At what point is it okay for us to identify with that label?”
The answer? Oh my gosh, I loved it! “The moment you step you the door and decide this is something you’re going to do, you’re a runner. Do you go on runs? Then you’re a runner.”
Seems simple, right? Well, oftentimes it’s not that simple for some of us. And a big reason for that is impostor syndrome. I’m going to dig into impostor syndrome more in a future blog post, but essentially it’s the feeling wherein you doubt your own accomplishments, don’t feel like you’re enough, or that you have a fear that you’re a “fraud” or will be “found out”. It’s a feeling that I felt exceptionally familiar with in graduate school, but I’ve come to find that it’s something that can come up in so many different parts of our lives. In science, in coaching, in podcasting, etc. I’ve constantly found myself struggling with.
This is particularly problematic when you’re new at something. I’ve constantly found myself asking the question: “Do I have the right to call myself this when it’s something that’s new in my life?” With coaching, I was uncertified, untrained, and had never worked with a client before. Did I still have the right to call myself a coach? With podcasting, I had only released one episode, had few downloads, etc. and I constantly questioned where I had the right to call myself the “host” of my podcast.
I’ll never forget a workout that I was doing one time. The trainer was kicking my butt and I was struggling through and
We seem to only allow ourselves to adopt the labels that we’re experienced in, whose skills we have fully-formed. But that’s bullshit! Pursue those passions anyway! Adopt those labels anyway! Even if a skillset isn’t fully formed…it’s still a skill in your toolbox! And it’s a
What I’ve realized is this…Once you start making conscious decisions that are directing down the path of the value you’re trying to pursue, yes you can adopt that identity. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the realm of fitness, coaching, writing, etc. you can still adopt that label. Is a parent any less a parent just because they’ve only had a kid for a week? No! So, why is this any different? I’m an athlete. I’m a podcaster. I’m a writer. I’m a mentor. I’m a motivator. I’m a coach.
GIMME JUST ONE MORE
SOAP BOX MOMENT, FRIENDS…
I think the first step we can take is to recognize that we have the chameleon identity. That we change our colors and highlight different facets of our personality depending upon the situation. Being able to lose that and just BE who we are with whoever we meet is the end all and be all of
What does it take to get there? Endless amounts of courage and the decision to be consistent. If we can present ourselves authentically to one person, we should make the commitment to doing that with the next
We might fail. But, we must be nice to ourselves when we do. The
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE – FLATMATES & THE CHAMELEON IDENTITY FROM JUST DATA WITH A SOUL