The annoying answer to this question would be, “It depends.” In reality, when you think about it, faking it until you make it really depends on the situation. Also, what does faking it actually mean? Most of the time, the context revolves around a situation that is upsetting or difficult. The person is faking their way through it usually by putting on a “face” or the appearance of feeling one way until they eventually feel it. For example, a person in a new job might fake their confidence and hide their discomfort as they adjust to new routines and new policies. They want their employer to have zero reservations about hiring them. Eventually, they would hope the confidence becomes real as they settle into their new job and feel more confident and comfortable in their new environment. That is a simple example, but faking it until you make it can be more complex.
The concept of faking it until you get to where you want to be can involve more than people realize. In order to do this, there has to be a willingness to change behaviors and work to help the thoughts and feelings follow. When a person struggles to speak in front of a group, you might ask them to consider how someone who appears comfortable speaking to a crowd might behave. Standing tall and speaking in a confident tone could be some of the ways a less confident person might act more self-assured. As they work to change their behavior they can help their mindset follow by working towards viewing themselves as a more confident person. In order to fake until you make it, you have to:
Be willing to make the necessary behavioral and mindset changes
Really work at it
Actually want it to work
Faking it until you make it is not about pretending and hoping things get better. It does take some effort to make it work. If you want to actually “make it,” you might have to really work at it which means you might have to practice… a lot. You want to have a desire for things to work out for yourself. It is not about trying to become someone different for other people. It is about becoming better for yourself.
In some situations, like learning on the job or feeling comfortable in a new position, faking it can mean buying time until you have more knowledge. Most of the time, you will get comfortable and feel more confident in your own abilities. However, there are other scenarios that are a little more complex. If you are faking being a confident and social person, it could involve adjusting certain behaviors and altering your mindset. You might be more proactive by seeking out conversations and asking thoughtful questions while also breaking down your own narrative that you are shy and not social. When you alter behaviors and adjust thinking simultaneously, your goals to be more social and confident can become your new reality. It is important to be considerate to yourself and others when trying to fake it until you make it. Make sure you are being authentic in your relationships and not just for the sake of others but also for yourself. Faking it until you make it is not about becoming someone you are not. It is about growing into someone you would like to be.
Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in sports psychology. Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.