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!

David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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  1. True that fear of the unkown brought about by change has made me to remain in my not so good situation other than taking that bold step and face my fear or challenge.

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  2. Why don’t you comment on someone who carries learned behavior from childhood, that impacts his adult life. More importantly, what can be done about it. Example, Dismissive Avoidant Attachment. Facing and getting in touch with repressed feelings, would allow this person to his or her life with a sense of authenticity. What say You? Chuck

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  3. I still feel like people will judge me if I try to change and become a person I’ll forever appreciate to be. Well I’m still afraid of change honestly I even know where to start 😔

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  4. First of I don’t even have words to explain to u how remarkable ur emails are…I m so delighted that somehow coincidentally I signed in on ur website…honestly I feel like I eventually did find that someone who does motivate me to becomes a better person…and it’s tremendous that u are helping people every day surprising for free…that is literally like the best act of kindness one can do for anyone…I m beyond inspired and impressed by ur emails…ill forever be grateful to u
    Thank u so much
    Regards
    Pk

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  5. Personally, I think your amazing. My interest levels are very low, eventually I will be able to write something.

    Reply
  6. There have been cases where I wanted to be like one or two people because I found out that most if the time when I’m amongst my friends, I’m always the quite type. So I sometimes wish I was like someone because I am not sociable enough. Basically, I’m scared of rejection and also people criticising me for who I’m.

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    • I read your comments and I can totally relate. I was always the quiet one, but I never knew how to reach out to people, or people would talk to me but it always ended in awkward silence. With these lessons from David, my life has changed so much, in a matter of less than a week.
      I did have to start slow just by texting and messaging I’m chat, and now I can almost start a conversation with anyone

      Reply
  7. I never thought about losing how I am due to improving or changing my self. I have always longed for changing how I behave in social situations.

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  8. Hi! I was wondering something. I recently got diagnosed with ASD (autism) when I was maybe 15 or 16. Through this, I have been trying to learn self-acceptance. The problem for me though is where is this line where being myself is okay and when being myself isn’t? For example, I tried whittling it down to if it harms others in any form, it’s best not to because I don’t want to hurt people. This sounds so chaotic. Sorry if you don’t understand.

    Basically, where do I start with being myself and when should I not?

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  9. I’m not afraid of change, but I do feel overwhelmed being different with different people, we show different sides of ours. Like you said, that’s normal, but there’s so many parts of me that no one will get to see; this is not necessarily bad, it just makes me sad to think about, cause there’s some sides of me that just don’t fit with anyone. I’m sorry, I’m really bad in explaining my mind and this is not my mother tong.

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  10. Seeing as personality is shaped by experience, you are always changing. Understanding this makes me feel more at ease, because its not so much losing who I am but building who I am.
    I am only afraid of change because of the uncertainty of knowing if I’m going to be happy with my choices later on. Mental note. Need to have more trust in myself.

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  11. I often think about this subject, wondering of I should let go of my second group of friends but I dont so I ignore it. Today after reading that email, my life turned around.

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