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Where Do I Belong: The Side Effects of Being a Social Chameleon

Hey, all! Just a quick, lil blurb from me.  For those who are new to my blogging segment, or to UIC Radio in general, my name is Katerina and I mainly blog about mental health.


I’ve been a social chameleon for most of my life and, until just recently, I was proud of this label.

Social chameleons are adaptive, agreeable, and they have a facilitated ability to make friends wherever they go.

In psychological terms, a social chameleon is a person who engages in excessive self-monitoring — which is defined as the proficiency in reading social cues and altering one’s actions and behavior to allow themselves to blend into a specific social situation.

As human beings, self-monitoring is a completely normal and necessary phenomenon in which to partake. We do so in order to manage our self-image, to show off our ‘best selves.’

But when self-monitoring is taken to the extreme, as is the case with social chameleons, the desire to fit in and be received positively by others can overcome and compromise one’s identity.

As a Communication major, I have developed a knack for interpersonal interaction but, as someone who suffers from both social anxiety and major depression, I obsess over my impression management more than most people do.

I spent the last few years of adulthood, and virtually all of my adolescence, unconsciously morphing myself into whatever others wanted me to be. I wasted all of my energy maintaining and hiding behind several different ideal representations of myself.

And I did it because it worked. People liked me, or at least I thought they did. The only issue was that none of these personalities were real.

In public, I alternated between whichever mask suited me best in each social situation. I could be the comedic relief, the charmer, the mediator, or the center of attention. I could be anyone, but at the end of the night, in the privacy of my own home, I had no disguise to wear. I had nothing to protect me from the fact that I had no sense of who I am.

I became a desolate husk through my own actions, but the blame is not solely mine to bare. A majority of the company I kept was vacuous — their desires shallow and their actions self-motivated. I mistook their overall positive reception of my eagerness to accommodate as sign of camaraderie and acceptance when, in reality, they were only fond of the benefits they were able to reap through me.

I am relieved to say that I no longer allow myself to hide behind excessive self-monitoring, and that I have found a family through the multitude of people I have met through the Super Smash Bros. competitive gaming community.

I hope that those who feel lost read this and feel motivated to find their families. Please be wary of the company you keep. Do not sacrifice your identity for the approval of a majority party.

Ask yourself: Are you merely blending in or are you being celebrated for who you are?




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