Faking It

“Fake it until you make it.” This phrase has been hitting me over the head today. This morning I have read this or some version of it about six times. I’ve only been up four hours! That’s a lot of times! Just last week I reaffirmed this advice to my sister who had consciously corrected a self-defeating behaviour even though inside the old feelings very much existed and were fighting to take over. Faking it works. This is one of those things I know for sure. Whenever I think of this concept I’m taken back to Toronto in the early 90s, terribly shy little me in a new job with an exciting young company. I wasn’t very outgoing. I didn’t warm up to people automatically. I needed to get to know people. I had discovered earlier that it took me about six weeks in a new job to get comfortable and be myself. The only problem was I was in a position in the hub of this company, I had contact with everyone that came through the door or telephoned. I couldn’t be mousy. The company needed a positive energetic force of nature in its centre. That was so not me, and when I was called into my superior’s office to chat about my attitude and my future with the company, it didn’t seem like I was going to be given the six weeks I needed in order to warm up to the place. I needed to change! And I needed to do it immediately! To show my commitment to the company I volunteered to take assertiveness training. She was impressed and agreed to set that up, but warned me that I also needed to try harder in the meantime.

Woe was me! I remember going home and sobbing on my boyfriend’s shoulder. Wailing about how this was the best place I’d ever worked and I loved it there, it was exciting, and they were going to fire me before I even had a chance to do anything. Ever logical the boy could only see two options: a) if you don’t want to be the person they need you to be, quit and find a job where you can just be who you are now OR b) if you’re sure this is the place for you, then just do it! Be that person they need you to be!

And that’s what I did. I went into the office the next morning with a smile plastered on my face and I greeted everyone warmly with enthusiasm, asking questions about their lives, flirting and/or teasing a little if appropriate, cracking jokes, and generally making it my business to put a smile on the face of everyone I came in contact with. I studied the behaviour of the other girl I worked with who was more naturally upbeat and outgoing. I studied her and I modeled her behaviour. And it was tough! I felt so phony. I didn’t feel genuine. I didn’t feel like me. I felt like my work life was a big play that I was acting in. But I loved that job and I was determined to make it work.

As the days and weeks went by, pretending got a little easier. I didn’t get fired. I reached my six week point and truly started to settle in and feel comfortable. I had probably been there for about 3 or 4 months when the assertiveness training course came up. I was excited about taking it. Finally I’d be able to learn what I needed to learn in order to be the person I wanted to be! But then an odd thing happened. I went to the course and I participated in the exercises and did all the work and at the end of the day all the other participants, the instructor, and even myself were left scratching our heads at why such an outgoing and assertive person had been sent on this course. I saw shadows of my former self in the other participants, but I was no longer like them. And I wasn’t pretending. Somewhere in all the acting, I had become the person I wanted to be.

Fake it until you make it. This theory continues to help me to evolve. I have a very clear vision of the person I want to become and I’m just gonna keep on faking it until I make it to the finish line.

Mood: starving! cuz i can smell pork loin roasting in my oven! yummy!
Drinking: coffee, black, and water, of course
Listening To: sirens, lots of them around this morning
Hair: in the blue headband that does not match the green/blue on my sweater

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