Fake it till you make it!
Fake it till you become it!
Control the message you’re sharing!
Spin to the positive!
I am so tired of this sentiment, and I 100% bought into it a few short years ago.
Come talk to me in 2016 or 2017, and I would have told you to fake it until you make it. And while I still believe in a bit of hype, I think we need to get rid of this in 2020.
In case you haven’t heard of this motivational idea before, you fake confidence until you become confident. The foundational thought is you’ll either become confident by faking it or you’ll succeed while you’re “faking it” and then POOF! You’ve got what you need to become confident.
Here’s the catch: what happens if you don’t feel confident through faking it, or don’t get what you need to feel confident through pretending?
Playing make-believe is exhausting – essentially you’re focusing on being someone you aren’t. As someone who was an actress for many, many years – there’s a reason it’s a profession and career. It’s exhausting to truly be someone you aren’t and to keep it up over a long period! Sure, you don’t, and shouldn’t, feel like you have to share all of your trials and troubles – but pretending you’re great is one of the reasons we’re all at the mercy of Instagram and hustle culture.
Practical talk, think of this: you’re portraying that you’ve “got it all” – why would someone think you need to learn anything if you’re acting like you have it all? You’re going to get fewer opportunities to learn and grow if you’ve already arrived.
Adding to that: studies have shown for years that people value authenticity, whether that is with individuals or with brands. Folks don’t want to just see the “highlight reel” of your life – so why are we still dealing with this almost 6 years after a highly publicized study from global communications and public relationship firm Cohn & Wolfe showed that the number one quality people demand of brands is “communicating honestly about products and services”?
At this point, you’re probably cheering, or over my convincing that we need to stop faking it – so how does that happen? A few ways:
Be Honest With Yourself
If you aren’t honest with yourself, you’re going to have a hard time being honest with other people, especially in social media land. Take a few moments each morning and evening to check in with yourself: How do you feel? What do you need? What do you want? What’s bothering you and what’s making you excited about your life right now?
The more honest with yourself you are, the more you can tell when you’re faking it and just putting things on for show. When you realize when you do that, you can stop it, or simply keep it to yourself if you’re not ready to let all the authenticity hang out.
Understand Everyone Is Human
We all have bad days, and if you decide to be honest about one of yours, surprise and congrats! You’re a human, too!
As a publically private person, you do not have to tell everyone everything about your bad day/week/month/year. You can simply say “I’m having a stressful time right now” or something to that effect, and when pushed, “Thank you for your concern, I don’t want to talk about it.” End of story.
Start Sharing Small, Have Grace
When you start sharing that you’re having a tough time, or even just that everything isn’t sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows, you can start very small. Some of you might think that saying “I’m having a stressful time” isn’t small – and you’re right! For some of you, it’s huge! It might be as simple as not defaulting to “Great!” when someone asks you how you’re doing or how work is going.
The second part of this is harder: have grace for yourself. I told a group of professional women to have grace for themselves a few weeks ago, and I was stunned to find out none of them knew what I meant. Stop being so hard on yourself – if you know that you’ve been “faking it” for a while, and you intend on building your authenticity and slip up, don’t beat yourself up over it. Give yourself some grace.
Maybe if you stop faking it, we all will, too.