We’ve all heard this saying before in response to anxiety over not being prepared or qualified for a particular challenge. But what does it really mean? Is it that simple? Just pretend you know what you’re doing and you’ll start to feel more confident and at ease? And eventually you’ll be able to “make it”? If so, I’ve struggled unnecessarily for my entire life. I’ve been thinking about this statement a lot lately as I’ve been working on several projects that have been slightly outside of my skill set and basically just terrify me to my very core! Here’s what I’ve learned about “faking it” and the reality of feeling inadequate.
First, faking it is really just about telling yourself that you’re capable of achieving something in order to give yourself the motivation to throw yourself into a scary situation. I’ve been doing a lot of this in order to prepare myself for writing a Bob’s Burgers spec script. I mean, Bob’s Burgers is brilliant and hilarious and surely I won’t be able to write an episode that I’ll actually be happy with and that won’t be an utterly embarrassing piece of trash! Well, this mindset plagued me for many weeks until I decided to channel my inner Kanye and convince myself that I’m a creative genius capable of absolutely anything.
So, when you start faking your confidence level it spreads to the fear you’ve been harbouring over the thing you think you won’t be able to do, which is what’s really stopping you, and you can jump right into it. That part works. But it’s really only a start. Because no matter how much you convince yourself that you’re comfortable with a particular situation, you’re still left with the reality of the challenge and your ability to handle it. And maybe you won’t be always be completely qualified or ready for a task, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done!
What I’m really saying is, even if you can fake it, you don’t have to make it. Because maybe my Bob’s Burgers script will not be good at all! Maybe it will be so bad that I’ll be amazed at how terrible I am at writing! It could definitely happen. And thinking about this possibility, really exploring it, taking it in, imaging what it would feel like has actually made me feel better. Then I can take the pressure off of myself and just try something new and challenging without being afraid of failure.
Of course I want to write a really great script and I’ll be disappointed with myself if it’s bad, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing that could ever happen in the history of the universe. Anyone trying something big, giving it their all and coming up short is sad but not tragic. Because then I can just reevaluate, think about what I can do to improve, and try it all over again. Probably the most important thing I’ve realized about creative work is that everything you create won’t always be great, or even good, or even bearable. And thinking of yourself as someone who absolutely has to succeed at everything will only hinder your ability to try new things that you might fail at. Have you ever not done something because you’re afraid you’ll fail? I definitely have. But those experiences haven’t done anything for me. The times that I’ve done the thing anyway, even if I have no idea how to do it have been the experiences that have benefitted me the most. Being comfortable with your inadequacy in tough situations when you can’t really fake it, and trusting that you’ll figure it out eventually with time will make all the difference.
University will be super intimating at times, especially when you have yet to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience to accomplish everything in the way that you want to. So when you have that really hard essay you have no idea how to write or a major project you’re afraid to tackle because it might not turn out great, just remember you’re currently in the process of improving yourself, and even by failing, you become better.
Basically, faking it until you make it won’t always work for everything you want to do, which is completely okay. And there’s a little bit inspirational insight from someone who hasn’t slept properly in over a week! Until next time!