Fake it until you can make it

It’s something that I’ve done all my life, and still do.

Faking it until I made it.

I was super shy, super serious, ugly as all hell. Almost fugly. Actually, DEFINITELY fugly.

I look back at pictures now and shudder at the awkward time I went through.

Don’t try and tell me all children are beautiful — they aren’t. I’m sorry, they just aren’t.

And I was one of the ugly fat ones with glasses & braces, and I got my fair share of teasing and hurtful comments. I am sure you had a girl or guy like that in your class who got teased all the time. I was that girl.

No guys wanted to even look at me, much less consider dating me except as a joke because I was so different (not blonde, blue-eyed or white for that matter).

Kids can be really cruel.

I was one of the girls they’d name in a poll about “who you’d like to date THE LEAST“, and while I’d beat out a girl or two, I was generally always on the bottom of the looks list.

I was so envious of everyone who seemed to interact with other kids their age so easily. They were able to laugh, have fun, talk and FIT IN without even trying. Everyone was so different from me, and I just wanted to desperately fit in, but I could never do it.

So I retracted into myself even further and I told myself it was because I was getting awesome grades that I felt like an outsider.

Like I was too mature for my age, trapped in an ugly child’s body.

My armour and shield was being smart. I didn’t even like the taste of alcohol (never really drank more than a drop until I turned 19) and I just didn’t see the point in cigarettes (smelled gross) or drugs (was afraid of getting addicted).

I just worked harder in school, did more work, really tried to make it to the top of my class to prove to myself that I wasn’t worthless. Kind of sad writing this (LOL), but it was true. That kind of drive to make it to the top made me work my butt off.

One day, a popular girl saw me staring off at the distance. She exclaimed (cattily and insincerely), “Wow, FB is really pretty...”… followed by a long snickering and pointing.

In terms of looks, I felt awful my entire life until the end of high school (the start of elementary until the end of secondary was a huge long painful episode that I have pretty much blocked out).

It was then, that I realized the golden rule: Fake it until you make it.

The braces had come off, I had discovered contact lenses (my parents FINALLY let me get a pair), and my skin started to clear up a bit.

In class, I started getting more confidence because I thought: “Hey, what do I care? I’m never going to see these people again in my life.

So I started acting like myself. My true self.

And I was right. Except for 3 friends and one or two classmates I never saw them again, and they also never recognized me unless I said something because I had changed so much.

Gone was the wallflower, the shy girl, the awkward, kind of chubby, weird looking kid.

I turned into an outspoken, outgoing, funny person that people ended up gravitating towards, but it didn’t happen over night. Believe me.

I ended up realizing that I really WAS pretty. That blonde princess didn’t know she was speaking the truth when she told me sardonically that I was pretty.

I was and am a great person to be around, and even though I can be in people’s words: “a bit harsh, opinionated and strong in my convictions” (you should hear the discussions I have with BF over totally mundane things, people think we’re about to break up or I’m about to kill him), it means I have a personality.

And instead of hiding that all my youth, and pretending I was a nice, simple, smart, quiet, wallflower girl who didn’t think badly of anybody, I spoke my mind and realized that people liked that I was bitchy.

They liked that I said what they were thinking, and they liked my honesty (to a point.. I haven’t lost ALL tact and diplomacy)!

They LIKED that I was quirky and weird (but not in a creepy way).

It was a weird revelation to realize that I had spent all those years hiding who I was, and I had given up on that facade only because I became exhausted of all the effort it took to lie to myself that I was someone different and it just wasn’t ME.

On the dating front, I also ended up (finally) dating guys by meeting them online and learning how to date (no guy in real life ever asked me out until BF (FOR REAL!) and it is strange, because he had to fight off many other guys who wanted my number as well. When it rains it really pours.).

It wasn’t until I went on a couple dates that I realized that I had the power to overcome my nervousness just by tricking myself.

I wasn’t expecting anything from the date, I pretended they were good friends I had known before, and my personality came out as a result, instead of being shy and awkward. I became interested in everything they said, even if I really wasn’t.

I asked about their figurine collection even if I couldn’t care less, and asked questions like: “how much are they worth in the end?”… “do they paint them a certain colour for certain characters?”…”how many do you have?”…”how did you get into collecting them?”

You know.

And I gained a lot of confidence in meeting strangers, and putting on a big smile and being friendly and at ease with them right away. It’s a handy skill at networking events or parties.

Just go up, smile, and say “Hi, my name is FB, and you are?

A lot of my dates told me that I instantly made them feel comfortable, which made them feel like they could just be themselves instead of some shellacked version.

They told me they admired my ability to be comfortable on a first date, much less a blind date, and having met them ONLINE first (dating online was SO not cool when I did it 7 years ago so I hid the fact that I met them online).

I wish I had told them the secret – I was faking it all along, pretending to be comfortable and charismatic when I didn’t feel like that. Maybe it could have helped them in future dates.

I even do it to this day, during interviews or presentations.

I get butterflies just like everyone else, but I just calm myself down, I read over my resume, I point out great things I did in my resume to build myself up, and I remind myself that I am great at my job and I truly love it. (Which I do. That isn’t lying).

And I never, EVER start sentences with:

  • “I know I don’t have much experience but…”
  • “Well, I don’t know, but…”
  • “Umm I am not sure, but…”

Those are suicidal sentences for me.

Instead, if I don’t have much experience or don’t know about something, I say:

  • “I have done that once on a project, and I feel confident I can do it again.”
  • “I have never found my lack of ____ to be a problem. We always find a way to make it work.”
  • “I have technically not done that on a project before, but I know how it works and am confident I can do it.”

Which is all true. But sometimes you are not sure, not confident and shy.

So you have to trick yourself before you can believe it’s real.

Have you done something similar? Am I alone in this tricking yourself business?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.