How a cultural chameleon sheds its skin

Did you know that chameleons shed their skin frequently? Chameleons renew their skin every three to four weeks when they are young and growing quickly. As adults, they shed around every two months to accommodate changes in weight and renew old scales.

I consider myself a cultural chameleon because I grew up in several different countries until the age of 18, all of which are not my passport country Germany. Each culture, each move and the people I met have considerably shaped my personality, my world view and the way I navigate life. As for many with this type of international upbringing – a tribe also known as “Third Culture Kids“ – it has been one of my survival strategies to flexibly cope with change and quickly adapt to the new surroundings.

As a consequence, transition is the state in which I feel most comfortable. I consider standstill and routines as dreadful. Just like the chameleon, I feel that I am constantly growing out of my old skin. The need to keep evolving manifests itself in many different ways: a move to a new country, a new job, a new travel adventure, a new sport or basically re-inventing myself all over again. I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful family that provides and demands consistency as well as amazing friends who support me. Together, they keep me grounded and rooted.

The pace at which I ‘shed my skin’ has slowed down as I get older, but it still irritates some people around me and I get it. Just when they thought they had figured me out and can finally put me in a mental box, the next change is around the corner. But that is what makes a chameleon a chameleon: its ability to transform. Feeling comfortable with change, transition and growth are actually my superpowers and I find it very fulfilling to encourage others on their journey across cultures.

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