I’m a Chameleon

Photo by George Lebada on Pexels.com

I scored a nine (out of nine) on the Enneagram test, a personality type indicator. I’m a peacemaker. A chameleon. A lizard with a highly developed ability to change color according to mood or situation. Black when stressed, green or bright blue when happy, and dark red with black stripes if angry. When I’m stressed, I’m so dark you may not notice me. In fact, I might be invisible. When I’m truly happy, I’m usually alone, or with pets and toddlers, and only they can see my shining blue and bright green colors. When I’m angry crimson red, you won’t notice that either because I’m especially good at hiding it.                   

Like a chameleon, I’m anti-social although my friends and family wouldn’t agree. I can blend into any social environment, either as life of the party or quiet and reserved. This was true throughout my career working with doctors and hospital administrators. By day I was a credentialing guru in the corporate board room wearing heels, a suit, and a somber expression. By night, a fun-loving, gregarious dancing machine at medical staff retreats. Blending in becomes a useful skill when it’s necessary to be socially acceptable and included. Chameleon-like people often show their colors in the work environment where they feel it’s important to impress others to achieve success. 

In my most recent work environment, I was black and red with stripes on the inside, bright blue and green on the outside. As a leader, I could empathize with staff and customers, exhibiting admirable qualities by being inclusive, listening to feedback, and keeping my word. But I wasn’t myself. The chameleon-like person is mostly true to herself at home, where there’s no need to be all things to all people all the time. There you’ll find me in my favorite chair, alone, silently reading or writing. And although the social chameleon can get along with most anyone, she doesn’t fare well with polar opposites, and she struggles when it comes to romance. So, you see, I’m clearly a chameleon. 

Generally, chameleons don’t like to be handled with the exception of gentle stroking underneath the chin. That would be just fine with me. A chameleon will let you know if she doesn’t like attention by walking away, gaping her mouth, or turning color. I’ve been known to do all of these things.

My Enneagram report was on the mark in describing my personality. In general, I’m patient, steady, easygoing, receptive, relaxed, agreeable, contented, and comforting. I can get into trouble by being emotionally unavailable, unaware of my own anger, and passive-aggressive, as needed. At my best, I’m self-aware, proactive, contemplative, natural, and passionate. I imagine and desire a world filled with peace and harmony. My theme song could be the jingle from the Coca-Cola commercial (by Bill Backer):

I’d like to build the world a home, and furnish it with love

Grow apple trees and honeybees, and snow-white turtle doves.

I’d like to teach the world to sing, In perfect harmony

I’d like to hold it in my arms and keep it company.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

Oh, wait, that last part was from John Lennon. But just Imagine

I’m the eternal optimist, hoping for the best and working hard to make the best happen. As a nine, I hold on to my independence and autonomy. And like the chameleon, I don’t want to be “messed with.” I focus on keeping my life pleasant and uncomplicated, avoiding conflict at all costs, and keeping my opinions to myself. 

That is, unless I’m writing or bitching and complaining about people and things in the privacy of my own home. I can be assertive when it comes to protecting my family and pets, but I conceal my anger. And after holding it in for too long, I explode in various shades of red, but you won’t see it. I’ll be invisible to you. 

The most constructive outlet for my suppressed anger is to put my energy into writing. That way I won’t piss anyone off and I can keep the peace. I express myself enthusiastically through music and dancing alone in my kitchen. I’ve heard chameleons perk up with good music. Once the rage is out of my system, the storm blows over and I’m back to bright blue and emerald green.

Author: Leslie J. Cox

Leslie Cox is a writer of creative non-fiction, focusing on personal essay and memoir. Her essay “My Favorite Chair” was a runner up in the WOW! Women on Writing Q1 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest, and she published two essays in “Her Vase” in 2020. Her essay "Distracted" appeared in the Pure Slush anthology: "Love, Lifespan," and she has enjoyed contributing to guest blogs and book reviews. Prior to semi-retiring from health care administration in 2019, Leslie wrote and published trade articles and a guidebook for health care professionals for HCPro. When she’s not writing, Leslie tutors students K-12 in the craft of writing, and that fills her up!

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