In my past I’ve had a habit of being a bit of a chameleon.
Rather than being true to myself, I’ve been who I thought other people would want me to be, who other people might need me to be or who other people would like best.
I’m sure we’ve all done it at times, because wanting to belong is such a fundamental part of human nature.
It’s hardwired into our DNA.
Why do we worry what other people want?
Way back when we were hanging out in tribes and still chasing after wilder beast for our evening snacks if we didn’t belong, the consequences were severe.
It could cost us our lives to be cast out and rejected by the people in our tribe, so learning to adapt and be what the tribe needed us to be wasn’t just good from an emotional point of view…it was a means of survival.
It’s no wonder we’ve got so good at becoming what we *think* other people want, like or need.
In the past, I was totally focused on being what other people want…
I spent much of my teenage years and early 20s hanging out with different groups of friends all of whom would get a different ‘flavour’ of Claire.
They were all aspects of my personality, just not the whole me.
Some of them I drank with, a lot. Others I didn’t drink with at all. Some I was quieter around, others more talkative. Some I would talk about spirituality and growth with, others would be about computers and hardware as I studied IT.
I was continually working out who I thought I needed to be to be accepted by those around me…and quite frankly, it was exhausting!
The challenge that this approach of adapting the parts of us that we’re sharing brings is that our interpretation of what other people want, like or need and the reality of what they want, like or need are not necessarily the same thing.
By being what you think other people want, you might be doing them a disservice..
I had an amazing experience last year that really demonstrated this beautifully and showed me that even when I think I know what someone else wants, likes or needs, that being the true me can give them a gift I didn’t even know they would be open to receiving!
It was last autumn and I was in San Diego visiting friends and I was looking at ways to get up to San Francisco where I would be spending a few weeks with one of my closest friends.
Someone who I’d only known a couple of days connected me with a girl called Andrea who was looking to hire a car and drive up the pacific highway as she was also meeting someone in San Francisco, and was looking for someone to share the car hire and driving with.
The friend who connected us told me that Andrea wanted to do lots of (and I quote) “Nature Stuff” on the way. She wanted to enjoy the scenery, see the ocean and enjoy all that nature had to offer on the trip.
I was more than happy with this, as I love nature, especially coastal areas…but there was one little additional thing that I wanted to do along the way.
I’d made a commitment to myself as my social circle’s resident Cupcake Queen that on the way up I wanted to stop in Los Angeles and visit the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the last lovely link below and all will be revealed!)
Now, that’s not really enjoying the best of nature, but I said to Andrea that I’d love to visit some beautiful natural spots on the way up, and I would also like to visit the cupcake ATM in LA. We agreed that we’d like to go together, and set off to hire a car.
We had a beautiful journey up the coastline, stopping to see beautiful vistas, wild seals hanging out on a beach and took some great photos.
When we got to LA, we had a wander down Venice beach and then after a relaxing afternoon we decided to stop into the Sprinkles ATM on our way out of the city and up to San Luis Obispo where we were stopping for the night.
The only flaw in the plan is that we didn’t realise the time. We started heading into LA at 5pm…rush hour.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen or experienced LA rush hour, but it was like London rush hour, multiplied by 10. It was gridlocked.
We were going nowhere fast.
After 30 minutes in which we moved no more than a couple of hundred feet I began to question whether this was still a good idea.
After an hour of going not much further, my brain was kicking into overdrive.
Here I am, sat in a car with a girl whose only intention was to enjoy nature on this trip, dragging her through LA rush hour to go and visit a cupcake ATM?!
All I can think is that she’s going to think I’m crazy. We’ve got all this beautiful coastline to see, and I want to wade through gridlock for a cupcake (albeit one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted…and that’s saying a lot!)
So we stick with it.
A journey that should have take around 20-30 minutes ended up taking over 3 and a half hours!
So we finally get to the cupcake store, and I’m thinking I need to be as quick as possible, but I promised several people that I’ll get a video of me using the cupcake ATM, so I have to ask Andrea to be my camerawoman while we’re there.
So this crazy woman who’s insisted we go through LA rush hour then asks her to take pictures of me and my travelling companion Bubba with the cupcakes, I then um and er over which cupcakes I want to purchase, and I then ask her to hold my video camera while I get a video of the cupcake ATM in action.
I’m even feeling that maybe I am a little crazy by this point.
But then something magical happened.
After laughing and giggling my way through the video and the purchase of several incredibly yummy cupcakes, we get back into the car and she turns to me with a big smile on her face and simply says, “You’re so much fun to travel with!”
Not only that, but when she tried the delicious cupcakes that Sprinkles has to offer, she even requested that we stop at their sister store in Palo Alto on the way up to San Fran!
I couldn’t believe it!
Here I am thinking I’m probably driving this nature-seeking girl crazy, when actually by being my true self I help her to experience a fun side of travelling that she otherwise wouldn’t have experienced, and really enjoyed!
If you scroll down to today’s last lovely link you’ll get to see the video masterpiece we created together (and yes, that is Andrea giggling in the background!)
So for this week I want to invite you to let go of the idea that you need to be anything or anyone for anyone else, and just be you.
You, the whole you, and nothing but the you.
…and see what your experience is…