David Morin

Won’t I lose who I am if I change?

I just spoke with a friend who lives in my house. She moved to the US from India a while back.

Because of that, she pronounces some words differently, so that sometimes people don’t understand her.

Here’s where we come to one of these interesting “peeks under the hood” of people’s inner workings.

She’s 1) SUPER motivated to be understood and to be successful in the US. But 2) Not very interested in changing her pronunciation.

I got flustered. To me, those two views don’t go together. So, I poked around until she said:

“But if I start changing my accent, won’t I lose who I am?”

BAM! How could I forget? This is one of the biggest objections our readers have before they decide to take the leap.

So, I told her what I tell our participants:

We change all the time. You speak in one way with grandma and another way with your friends. This doesn’t make you fake, quite the opposite: One of the things that make us human is our ability to adapt and improve. It’s not shallow, it’s beautiful.

I told her about the two things that we DON’T want to change: Our beliefs and our values. (Even they change over the years, but we shouldn’t change them to fit in).

Then there are manners – like how we act, energy level, accent, topics we talk aboutAs long as they don’t go against our beliefs and values, we can adapt them to any situation we’re in.

What she did after I told her this surprised even me. She started practicing my pronunciation and asked me to critique it. (Yeah yeah I know, my pronunciation is also a work in progress). It was like she had always been motivated to improve, and now that the final objection was out of the way, nothing held her back.

Changing how you act won’t make you lose who you are. As long as you act in accordance with your values and beliefs, you will always be you. It’s a powerful realization, but sometimes I forget HOW powerful it is.

Read more: How to be yourself in social settings.

Have you ever kept from self-improvement because you’ve been afraid to lose who you are?

Let me know in the comments!

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Comments (20)

  1. Anonymous

    I want to improve certain things about myself, not necessarily change who I am. Sometimes I feel like I’m capable of doing great things, but I just don’t have the confidence to show any of it. When I speak to strangers or even people I know, I constantly feel the need to prove something, I want to show them by my behavior that I’m not some scared little girl, I have confidence but quite often I end up doing the opposite. I put so much pressure on myself that I get nervous, my mind goes blank and then I say things I wish I said differently later on. I hope I can face my fears and become confident someday, easier said than done in my case.

  2. Tim

    I want to change who I am. Don’t like the current me.

  3. Anonymous

    I feel like I do want to change myself so bad. I hear people laughing together, and overhear casual lighthearted conversations; I long to be like that or have a positive effect on people around me instead of negative. Instead of dry, tiring greetings that I seem to have to force out of people. I’m afraid I’ll be like this my whole life and won’t learn to make connections or at least have a base level understanding of coworkers acquaintances around me. I am afraid of changing who I am but sometimes I don’t even know who I am.. My mind is blank most times.

  4. Anonymous

    This is very helpful. I should stop being afraid of changing my way of communicating while around certain people. I feel like I have been catagorized by some as silly or even an idiot due to nervousness and social awkwardness. I have decided to create a more serious and relaxed persona around those folks who have judged me as such.

  5. Anonymous

    Good point david about changing to be like someone else. I’m guilty of that and now realise that I should just be myself.
    I am going to practice this and see you I am interacting and my real self.

  6. Blessings

    I have often kept myself from self improvement.Not because of fear of changing who I am, but because I am usually afraid of what people would think or say..I have grown up constantly hearing people say that I am a very shy girl. As a result, when I get interested in some things and even though I may be totally convinced that am capable of doing it,I kind of hold back.. For example, I have always been interested in poetry but never tried it out for the very reason. I also liked debating during my junior and Senior secondary school but I would never volunteer to participate.. one time while my class was preparing for a debate against another class,I decided to help a participant by demonstrating how she could have delivered her points.. I did it so well that the class unanimously decided to have me on their panel despite my reservations.well,I did debate and guess what? I actually turned out to be the overall best speaker of the session.. now I try to dare to do the things I think and believe am able to do..but I still find it much easier to do the things that people recommend I actually am good at even though I am unsure of it… it’s as though I am always waiting for approval before embarking on anything.

  7. Lorena Favela

    Have you ever kept yourself from improving or changing because you were afraid of losing who you are?
    Not really, i’m 16 years old and a couple of years back i felt like this and was very depressed and i found out that i didn’t have to care about what others thought about what i liked because not everyone is the same,and no one had to be the same. so even though i change my likings often (because i’m a teen and i’m also human) i know who i am

  8. Linda Kunes

    I feel exactly the same way as Olivia, my words come out jumbled. I noticed I speak backwards, the end of my sentences should be in the beginning and vice versa. People either cut me off in mid sentence, walk away, or start talking to someone else. I focus so hard on what I’m going to say that it comes out a mess. I start thinking of what I’m going to say before the person is finished, so I miss half or sometimes all of what they said. Making this extremely difficult to continue the conversation and to pass the story on. I have been told I’m boring.

  9. Olivia

    Sometimes when I’m having a conversation I feel like I don’t have the right words to explain things so It feels like my brain just shuts down and then I feel like the person is going to get angry or bored with me
    Also whenever I’m talking to someone and I’m not excited I feel like it shows in my facial expression and I feel like it’s just putting off the conversation

  10. Sara

    David, you are the cutest ever. Thank you for helping so many people with your thoughtfulness and real ness. We appreciate you.

  11. Anonymous

    When I interact with people, after a couple of minutes, I tend to talk to them in their own style of talking. This looks to some people that I copy others, and they point it out to me that I am a copy cat with no originality and then I get affected by it and feel constricted. Then my interaction becomes robotic, awkward and draining and totally uninteresting. I have frequently wondered and doubted myself as unoriginal copycat without my own style.

  12. Anonymous

    You are so right about people being like who they are around.
    But the older I get the less patience I have with things and
    people.

    I don’t like to be around two-faced people. And I have a
    friend that will read scriptures from the Bible then the
    next thing you know she is making a scene herself with
    someone and it usually isn’t none of her business whatever
    it is. And it is more embarrassing to be with her doing that.
    She doesn’t see that she is doing anything wrong. So I don’t
    plan on being at places where I am conforted with that situation
    with her.

    The people that I work with are all two-faced. I have
    got to the point that I really have nothing to say to them
    except “good morning” There are some people in my life I
    care about and that I know care about me. So I am good
    with just seeing them. And they aren’t even family to me.

    Relationship of any kind are hard and sometimes not pleasant.

  13. Anonymous

    Sometimes I feel okay in social situations, but mostly of the time I get nervous around a group of people.

  14. Anonymous

    I fear being left out of eye contact and the conversation. I also fear being isolated at social events. I feel that people like me but are afraid or just choose not to talk with me that much

  15. Anonymous

    I am an overthinker. I opt to keep quiet instead of saying something wrong.

  16. K

    That’s exactly what’s been holding me back from being 100% who I want to be ! – The fear of coming across fake. Thank you for sharing this with us! Because that’s exactly what I needed to hear – that as long as it matches up with my beliefs and values, it’s not being fake. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  17. Esther

    Interesting insight. The observation that we as humans are adaptive by nature is worth remembering.
    In my experience it was less of me being afraid of losing who I am, and more afraid that people who knew and expected the old me would scoff at my trying to be different. Same result: sabotaged self-improvement and esteem. I’d feel like an impostor for changing something like my accent. “Oh, you’re too good to be one of us now, huh?” is the sentiment I’d have to face. Though I’m probably not being fair to these people (family members, mostly), because they never said this out loud. It was more an underlying fear that held me back for years.
    Thanks for all the work you do!
    Cheers

  18. Nigel

    Yes! This is so recognizable!

    I get why people resist to changing themselves – it’s scary. For me, it feels like I’m out of control of who I am.

    I had a date with a girl and I noticed I was behaving a little bit different. It was a positive change but I felt bad afterwards.

    It’s good to know the difference between being adaptable and losing your believes & values.

    Thanks for the tip! Just what I needed 🙂

    • David Morin

      Awesome Nigel! I hope it helps you to keep learning and growing as a person without having to change you truly are 🙂