I was recently reminded of elementary school gym class. (No, I wasn’t having a nightmare or some PTSD-like flashback, but I can see why you might think that.) As you may recall, the teacher would often choose two captains and then the rest of us would stand awkwardly in a line as they selected their teams. I don’t know about you, but I was not anyone’s first draft pick, or their second, third or fourth for that matter.
Whether we want to admit or not, we all want to be accepted. We all want to fit in somewhere. Even those of us who enjoy being alone want to know we have somewhere to go, people to be with, when we’re feeling so inclined. Everybody wants to belong.
What have you said or done to be accepted?
I’ve been known to become a chameleon and take on whatever appearance or attributes were necessary to get me in good stead with a certain person or group. Have you ever done that? I can recall many times at work where I’d laugh at a senior executive’s lame attempt at humor. I’d smile and nod my head as they rambled on about some insignificant point completely unrelated to the meeting’s agenda. In short, I’d play the role to keep the gig. I’d become what was necessary to keep me employed and, hopefully, promoted. Sure, I’d blow off steam after hours because it was hard pretending for so long, but I took comfort in the fact that when I was allowed to just do my work in peace, it was a great job.
I’m also not ashamed to admit that in my youth my low self-esteem and insecurities caused me to betray my true self in order to get or maintain a romantic relationship. Once again, I morphed into what I believed (or was being told) was how I should be. I played the role to get and keep the gig. I’d love to say I abandoned this folly as I grew older and wiser. I’d love to say that.
Don’t you get tired of trying so hard?
When you’re playing all these different roles, it can be exhausting. You start to lose touch with who you really are. For me, I began to resent Relationship Kat because she was needy and weak. I could rationalize Work Kat because she was paying the bills and wasn’t fully compromising her integrity. There was also Family Kat, not to be confused with Friend Kat. Friend Kat was probably my most authentic self. Family Kat was a close second, except she learned there were certain forbidden zones of conversation and interaction. Needless to say, she’d still end up dancing on a mine field or two at holiday gatherings.
Friend Kat is typically the one at the table asking everyone else how they are doing. She’s quick to deflect any intimate subjects away from her and back to someone else. But when it’s one-on-one or small group settings, she shares her heart. She’ll open up and be vulnerable. Most of the time she doesn’t regret it. Most of the time.
I met someone recently who embodies the chameleon mindset, so much so I began to wonder if he even knows who he is anymore. I’ve watched him become whatever he needs to be in any situation to try to get what he wants and be included. I’ve seen him compromise and flip-flop on almost every issue. I got so tired trying to keep up with his mental gymnastics routine. I’m not judging him. I remember all too well what it was like to juggle all these personalities and behaviors. It’s downright draining. In quiet moments, it’s also painful and lonely.
The fear of rejection can make us unrecognizable to ourselves.
I remember there came a point in my 20s when I couldn’t quite look myself in the mirror anymore. I was in a toxic relationship, not that I would ever admit it. I had a boyfriend. I was in love. I was going to make it work. I wanted to be chosen so desperately that I started losing myself. I changed my hair, my clothes, everything. When the relationship finally ended after two tumultuous years, I had to rediscover who I was. I’m sure that sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. I’d played a very specific role for so long; it was a hard habit to break. The scariest part was running into my ex with his new girlfriend a year or so later and seeing how he had made her look like me: similar hair and clothes. I made a hair appointment the very next day.
Do you have somewhere to go where you can be 100% yourself?
I’m talking about somewhere you can be at your lowest, feeling your worst, and not have to hide or disguise it. Do you have someone who really knows you and has seen you at your ugliest (and I don’t just mean when you first wake up with bed head)? Do you have a relationship with someone you know will never end no matter what you say or do? You might think that’s impossible because no one would stick around after (fill in the blank with whatever you think would make them leave) or if they knew you did (blank).
There is One who already accepted you and chose you on purpose.
The truth is even the best, most loving people can disappoint us. As humans we are fallible, and we will let one another down. So instead of changing ourselves just to fit in or putting unreal expectations on others, wouldn’t it be great if we had an assurance of complete, total love and acceptance?
Spoiler alert: WE DO!
You know I brought receipts. (Any and all bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com NIV.)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)
For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14, ESV)
Now at first blush these verses may seem to contradict each other. I see it more as complementary. The Lord chose us from the beginning. His love is freely available to each and every one of us. This symbolizes being called. The offer is there. It’s always been there. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. You can’t buy it or act a certain way to obtain it. You don’t have to change anything about yourself to get it. It’s a free gift. The only way to possess it is to accept it. When we receive God’s love through Jesus Christ, we are part of His chosen. Sadly, many hear the call but few will answer. Few are chosen.
The call goes out every day to all the world. Will you answer it? Will today be the day you stop being a chameleon? Will today be the day you truly believe there is One who loves you no matter what you’ve done or will do. Will today be the day you realize you don’t need to become someone you’re not just to fit in because you’re already loved and accepted by the Creator of the whole universe? Will today be the day you say yes and rest in God’s love? It’s up to you.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. And make today the day you join the real dream team.
Look forward to hearing from you,