Can a Leopard Change its Spots?

Some questions are asked simply to get information, eg, “Do you know if it’s raining outside?” and “What would you like for your supper?” They require very little other than a straightforward response. Sometimes, however, questions are designed to stimulate a conversation or to elicit the answer that the questioner had already decided upon. They, in fact, presuppose an answer, as is the case with the headline above.

That question about the leopard it its spots is really one that is used when intimating that people, not leopards, can’t actually change. Whereas people, on the other hand, do change all the time, albeit usually in small physical ways as they get older. What, however, about changes other than these? Can you change how you think and behave or are these like the leopard’s spots? Well, I know from a great deal of personal experience that you can with one proviso. That proviso is that the desire to change needs to come from the individual concerned followed by effort to ensure that that desire is turned into action. These two conditions met, you can change enormously.

In my own case, I learnt early on not to have expectations; they weren’t for the likes of me. So I allowed life itself to get in the way of realising any dreams I might have had. Indeed, on the few occasions when I thought that they might have done so, I was disabused of any such notion fairly drastically. Those dreams remained just that, dreams. Until I was 32.

Within a few months I was divorced and, with custody of my two children, I moved to a rundown terraced house in Yorkshire to became a fulltime student. It was the start of the rest of my life on what was to be a very long journey and one that continues to this day. Yet, those demons continued to haunt me until one day, in a relationship, I blew it totally. It was then that I decided that I should try therapy. It was, as they say, one of my better decisions.

It was to be many years before, gradually, I changed. So much so that I like to think that I’m now the person I might have been had those childhood traumas not happened. Having published four works of nonfiction, I’m now trying to get my first novel published. Another novel and two other works of nonfiction are well in hand and, yes, I’ve realised my dreams. So, can a leopard change its spots? No, not really. However, can a person change and, in doing so, realise their talents and be at ease with themselves? Yes, they certainly can; they  just need  to take those first steps and then keep going.

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