Posts Tagged ‘writing prompts’

Is being a chameleon a strength or weakness, I was asked.

How is your greatest strength also your greatest weakness?

This question is the October writing prompt from my Story Circle Network writing circle, which I’ve been a member of now for over ten years. Every writer should belong to just such a supportive group, and I feel blessed to have found mine.

As to the prompt, I immediately thought of one of my traits that for most of my life I thought of as a weakness, but in recent years have concluded is actually a strength.

I consider myself to be a chameleon because I have no problems fitting in with many types of people and groups. I, almost instinctively, can adjust my actions and speech so that I fit in. It’s as if I’m many persons. While I don’t verbally agree with things I don’t believe in, I work at not making statements that will give offense.      

That’s not to say it always works. While it does keep disagreements and controversies to a minimum, I’ve become known as the dolt who suffers from foot-in-the-mouth disease. Sometimes it leads to hard feelings toward me from someone I dearly love. And then my attempted explanations usually make things even worse.

The truth is, especially in the earlier days of my life, being a chameleon was all I was. I envied people who knew who they were and stood up for things they believed in. My problem, or so I thought, was that I never seemed to have those same strong feelings about one issue or another.

I could see the point of view of those who took a hard stance on an issue, but just as easily I could also see the point of view of those who took an opposite hard stance. No issue ever seemed to be black and white. I thought this made me a weak person.

At some point, as a working journalist, I came to understand this chameleon attitude served me well. I always kept both sides of a polarized issue talking to me because I didn’t slant my newspaper stories one way or the other. I stuck to the facts only and fairly represented both sides equally – because I usually could see both sides, especially involving the issues I wrote about as an environmental reporter.

It took me much longer to see my chameleon qualities with friends and family as a strength — and not until I accepted myself and actually found a few issues on which I couldn’t back away from, even if they offended someone. It took me a long time but I finally came to know who I am, and that includes being a person with chameleon traits.

And those traits are an asset because they give me easy access to many different kinds of people and situations that broaden my horizons.  Being a chameleon means I’m not stuck in only one mind set.

So, what are your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses?

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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