On occasion, I have had clients read a children’s story as part of our work together.
Eric Carle writes “The Mixed Up Chameleon,” a story about a reptile who tries to take on characteristics of all the other animals he admires. In the story he does just that, adding to himself one characteristic at a time, and at the end of the story when a fly appears he is too encumbered by all of his additional parts to do what he was really made to do.
Only then does he realize he is ok just as he is, and that his chameleon qualities are perfect at enabling him to do exactly what he needs to do in the world.
I think that many of us have had such “mixed up” moments, times where we look at gifts or skills or abilities that others have with a sense of wistful longing. We may find ourselves trying on characteristics or qualities that don’t quite fit but seem alluring; or perhaps our chameleon like efforts may be more external, like a hair style or outfit choice that is on point for someone – but out of sorts for ourselves.
Much like the chameleon, it seems a lot of us are just trying to fit in. To belong. And many of us have a sense that to be different or unique is to be on the outside, excluded. So we push for sameness in an effort to feel safe.
And yet as the chameleon in the story learned, instead of safety he was rendered a less effective version of himself.
So, to all you out there trying on different parts or taking on roles that seem interesting or important or cool, this one is for you.
You are just fine the way you are. Doing what you do. Letting the elephants be elephants, the birds be birds, while you catch flies. Your work in this world may not be as exciting or sexy or instagrammable as someone else’s, but it’s yours, and it is an important part of you filling the unique space that you hold in the world.