Write for You: Your Inner Chameleon

by Nancy Casey

Chameleons are relatively small lizards that are famous for their ability to avoid predators by changing colors to blend into whatever background they happen to be standing on. They move their bodies to blend in, too. For example, if they are walking along a branch, they will sway with the same rhythm as the leaves that are moving in the breeze.

We do that, too. We don’t change colors. (Unless we blush, which hardly helps us to blend in!) We do change our behaviors for different situations, though. It’s a survival technique, too. Although we are all distinct individuals, it’s hard to feel comfortable when other people are only noticing your difference or constantly calling attention to it.

What do you do to blend in to various situations? Think about ways that you sit, stand, and walk when you are with people who know you well and accept you unconditionally. Compare that to your body language when you are at work, in school, or meeting the family of your love-interest for the first time.

We blend in with language, too. If you are multi-lingual, this is obvious. Even if you only speak English, the variety of English that comes out of your mouth and even the things that you say will differ depending on who you are talking to. Think about how you answer the question, “How is your day going?” when the cashier asks that as you pay for your groceries. If you answered as if you were talking to a therapist, the situation would turn uncomfortable.

Clothing is important to blending in. So much so that some situations have dress codes. Interestingly, sometimes in order to blend in, you have to wear clothes that usually make you stand out. Think of a formal dance or a Halloween party.

Are there situations where it is simply impossible for you to blend in? How do you handle those? Do they make you uncomfortable? Do you try to blend in anyway, or do you just roll with it? Is there a pep talk you give to yourself to remain relaxed and confident when you think everyone is noticing how different you are?

Today, write about your habits and practices of blending in. How much effort do you put into it? When is it important? What is difficult about it? How much do you care? Have your attitudes about it changed over your lifetime?

As you write this, remember that your writing only needs to blend in with your own ideas about how you feel like writing right now. That’s what writing for you is all about.

When you have finished, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person could write.

Here is a video with more information about how amazing chameleons are, but if you would be grossed out by watching them chomp large insects, you might want to skip it.

Share what you have written! Post it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.

Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. If you are in recovery and would like her (free!) help with any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

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