The People-Pleasing Chameleon Kid: “How Do You Like Your Bacon? I Can Make it Anyway You Like” (It’s All Fake Bacon)

Fake bacon – just like morning people, car blinkers left on, and the way the volume for Hulu ads auto-increases (pissing off your neighbor for interrupting her OnlyFans video)…

…angers me greatly.

Now before you get your spinach all riled up in a carrot riot (or “car-riot”… tee hee), this is not a blog post hating on vegetarians or vegans. This is just a clever/cutesy way of me transitioning into the topic of this blog post…

…which is not ACTUAL “fake bacon”, but rather the “fake bacon” we often dish out to please everyone else. (See what I did there?)

I’ve talked about fake bacon before, but there are more layers to that toxic grease that take the fakeness to a whole new level.

Fakeness that becomes so ingrained that you don’t even know what’s fake and what’s real anymore…

People-pleasing is a dangerous game. Why do we do it? Well, because we don’t feel too hot about ourselves, and the idea of someone else giving us the “Hey, he/she/they seem kinda cool” up-down has us pissing ourselves with glee.

We don’t even realize we’re doing it most of the time. 

“Football? Psshhh, yeah, I mean, like that game was, oh boy, yeah, that was crazy.” (Look them directly in the eye with confidence, really sell it – they seem hopeful that I like football, so I LOVE football, dammit… I can learn to love football. I mean, I’ve always kinda wanted to get more into it. Shit, maybe I was born to be a sports-lover but just never gave myself a chance to be one – I’LL LOVE FOOTBALL FOR YOU!)

Them: “Sweet, so you follow football too?”

“Well, duh, of course.” (Shit.)

But fake bacon can go even deeper than that and really fuck with your self-perception AND self-identity. 

Who Da Fuck Am I?

For example: I started doing stand-up comedy back in March. I knew what I found funny, and my closest friends (to whom I’ve never felt compelled to serve fake bacon) always say how funny I am. 

So it made sense to try stand-up, right? Should fit like a glove…

But as soon as I got on that stage for the first time, it was like staring at a room full of genitals and realizing that mine didn’t look like a single one of them.

So how the FUCK was I going to please each one of these genitals- I mean, people?

I don’t know these people. I don’t know what they like. Which people should I try to make laugh? How do I know what’s funny to all of them? How should I speak? Slow? Energetic? Fast? Furious? I’ll just be myself… if I can just figure out who da fuck that is, I’m golden…

(Spoiler alert: I was NOT golden.)

Even now, months later, I’m STILL struggling to be myself on stage. Not just because I am trying to please everyone in the audience (I’ve learned to accept that that is impossible, and that’s okay), but also because I have spent so much of my life adjusting who I am (from my likes and dislikes down to even the volume or pace at which I speak) for other people. 

So much so that I still have trouble relating to and understanding the concept of “just be yourself.”

Another good example (from a romantic relationship perspective)…

After I started doing stand-up, I became obsessed with it. Even on the nights I bombed like a stink bug infestation at a litterbox orgy, I was still in love with everything about it. There was rarely a second when I wasn’t writing or learning how to improve my skills. 

…but then came a guy…

Yes, I started dating a guy who was also a comedian. But our comedic styles were very different. He often dismissed my jokes and type of humor, bragging only about his style and his favorite comedians. He mocked my choices of comedians and sitcoms.

As time passed, I became less and less involved in the local stand-up community. I stopped going to open mics as often (even though I had been on a roll of really good performances). I lost the motivation to write. 

I started focusing all of my attention on him; adjusting my schedule to his; trying to change my sense of humor to better align with his; telling myself my jokes weren’t funny so I shouldn’t even bother, because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t mimic his style of humor.

But it didn’t stop at the comedy stuff. I also stopped spending time with my friends and going to my favorite hangouts. I wasn’t spending time with the friends who validated, motivated, and adored my true self. They saw it, and brought out the best in me. I never felt self-conscious about anything I did, said, or shared around them, because they just allowed me to BE my Bacon; they let me cook to MY liking.

All it took was this one guy, and I had changed my entire routine.

I was going out of my way to visit HIM, spending time with HIS friends, and doing things HE wanted to do.

That happens to me often in relationships, as I believe it happens to a lot of people. We become attached to a person so much so that we feel obligated to fulfill their needs as well as reliant on their validation and approval. 

Why is that? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but what it all boils down to is this:

Negative Self-Talk/Self-Perception

Guess what? When we were born, we actually *gasp* DIDN’T hate ourselves *gasp 2.0*.

There are two chief (go, Chiefs! That’s for the aforementioned football guy) reasons for this:

  • We didn’t even know how to speak, much less form articulate thoughts in our heads, so we couldn’t engage in negative self-talk.
  • We can’t understand yet what others are saying, so they can’t invade our heightened state of contentment (plus, when you’re a baby, in most cases people are speaking only sweet, nonsensical words and noises at you)

But then as we grow up, all of those sweet words and self-esteem-boosting expressions of adoration fall to the wayside. That’s not to say that the people who love us suddenly mistreat us or begin hating us. But as we get older, that reassurance transitions to something we have to work at ourselves, as opposed to relying on others to fulfill those needs for us.

Unfortunately, depending on our environment, the people we surround ourselves with, and the various life experiences we are exposed to, our inner voices increase in volume and make their own interpretations of events and how we are treated.

We don’t have ongoing external, objective words of validation to compete with our internal dialogue of tangled and conflicting self-messages.

That’s why, when someone is a victim of abuse (physical and/or emotional), it is SO IMPORTANT that they talk to people about it, whether it be in support groups, therapy, or with close friends and family. 

Building on that, those who have been through any kind of abuse have an even harder time overcoming negative self-talk. Their self-perception is so far from reality because their inner voices are coupled with the voice of their abuser. 

Other factors that influence our self-talk and self-perception include Middle Child Syndrome, bullying, and difficulty making friends.

Additionally, genetics and observed learning behaviors (ever heard of “Social Learning Theory”?) play a significant role in how we see ourselves in comparison to others. 

For example, mental disorders can make us feel badly about ourselves if we’re given the impression that there’s something “wrong” with us or if we don’t seek any kind of treatment. People who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for instance, may feel ostracized when others shake their heads or comment on their obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and/or if they don’t receive the resources, treatment, or coping strategies to help them better understand themselves and the disorder. 

Or maybe we grew up watching parents or relatives argue all the time, or consistently witnessed a family member accept any abuse as if they deserved it. We may subconsciously take on that mentality as we get older.

As a result of a negative self-perception caused by any one of the aforementioned reasons/factors, we want to be who we think people want us to be. Since our self-perception is skewed and unrealistic, we become a very insecure, confused, lost, and lonely version of ourselves. And even though we may have felt this way our entire lives, it still doesn’t sit well with us; we KNOW something’s off, but we can’t seem to pinpoint what it is. 

That’s because we have to look deeper, down to the depths of our subconscious. And depending on how deeply rooted the negative self-perception is, we may need intensive therapy to help us overcome it.

Find Yourself

As much as I would like to tell you that you can overcome negative self-perception and your inclination to adapt your behavior with sheer willpower, it doesn’t quite work that way. You really have to put conscientious work into it, developing new habits to combat those negative internal messages. You need to practice sitting with yourself with intention to learn who YOU really are, and what YOU really want. 

Strip yourself of the fake personalities you’ve tried to fit into, the lies others have told you, and the lies you’ve told yourself, and what are you left with?

Just Bacon, baby. YOUR Bacon…

No guilt. No shame.

That’s the real stuff.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s