I woke up at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, panic-stricken that I am just like the American Idol contestant who is told their whole life by family and friends that they have an amazing voice…only to audition and learn they aren’t even average.
My Tuesday morning panic was in relation to my writing and career shift. It’s not the first time I’ve had this feeling about something going on in my life and I know it won’t be the last.
When I was younger – in my 20s – I believed in the whole “Fake it ‘til you make it” sentiment and never would have written a blog post about feeling like a failure. But I’m older and wiser now (Right? I mean…I’m at least older), and believe the only person you fool when “faking it” is yourself.
It’s okay to not feel like you’re enough. And it’s okay to let other people see that you’re struggling.
But in case you don’t believe me, here are my top three reasons for no longer faking it:
Have you ever had a big ‘ol zit front and center on your face? Of course you have; if you haven’t – we can’t be friends.
You know all the time it takes to cover it. And how much you check on it throughout the day to make sure it’s still covered. Maybe you even think up strategic sitting positions in business meetings that help to hide it from the rest of the table. Your day becomes consumed with that stupid, huge zit.
“Faking it” is EXACTLY like covering that zit – only it’s all of you. And it’s a lot to cover up.
My very talented counselor put it to me this way: Try hiding a pillow under whatever you’re wearing right now. No matter how hard you try, people will notice the pillow – whether it’s a bulge underneath your shirt, or a corner sticking out from under your blazer.
You will spend a ton of energy “faking it” and ultimately, people will still see through it all.
You miss out on opportunities.
I remember several instances where I missed out on professional opportunities because I was so busy “faking it.” For example, being given the opportunity to attend professional development conferences (because I’m so busy faking that I’ve got it down) or work on a new account (because I’m so busy faking how happy I am on my current accounts) or even set my own schedule (because I’m so busy faking that I already have the perfect set-up).
That last one hurt the most. As the new hire out of college at a PR firm I was constantly annoyed that one of my more experienced colleagues never made it to the office before approximately 10 a.m.
Our hire dates were around the same time on the calendar, and so I had my first-year review just before her annual review.
I faked a lot in my review and didn’t ask for anything. I didn’t want to be labeled a “complainer” or “ungrateful.” One of their questions specifically focused on schedule – since flex schedules were just becoming a thing at the time, and I stuck with my fake “LOVING EVERY MINUTE” mantra instead of being honest.
Truthfully, there was a LOT of overtime with events and such, and since I didn’t really have a lot of vacation time, I would have loved to be able to get make-up hours off after a crazy week. Now I can see that it’s a totally reasonable request – but at the time, I was too focused on playing the role of star employee to dare ask.
I left the review with positive feedback, but nothing exceptional gained on my end.
So I couldn’t wait for my colleague to get her review because in my mind, she would be reamed for her tardiness and whipped into shape. But instead, when they asked her the same question about schedule, she lay into them about how public relations is a position always on call and she needed more flexibility in office hours because bottom line – she did her job well.
They AGREED. And moving forward, she had a different schedule than the rest of the office and got every other Friday off.
I was so committed to faking it, I missed out.
Faking it is the most elaborate lie you’ll ever tell, and it gets bigger every damn day.
The more you fake it, the more you build a wall around your true self. And one day you’ll wake up and realize there’s no one with you inside the “fortress of fake.”
I came to realize that all the “friends on paper” I’d acquired while striving for perfection weren’t friends at all. None of them really knew me. And because I was so busy faking it, I didn’t feel comfortable disclosing my struggles with any of them.
I was surrounded by people, but didn’t have any one to talk to. That is – until I finally stopped faking it.
It takes work to dismantle the “fortress of fake” built throughout my life. But I have exposed my true self brick by brick to those around me, and gained a few good, true friends who aren’t afraid of the crazy mess that I am.
Fake it ‘til you make it? No. F that.
Struggle. Stumble. Fall. And then get back up. You’ll have help from beautiful friends who love you for exactly who you are.
Much Love, H