“Fake it ‘till you make it”: Does it really work?

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by Jayden Jones, Opinion Editor

“Fake it ‘till you make it!” 

It’s astonishing to reflect on how many times in our academic careers we’ve heard that phrase. Whether we’re starting a new internship, a new semester, or a new challenge–it never takes long before it shows up, either as desperate self-talk or well-intentioned advice. 

It seems to be a generally accepted truth that if you have no idea what you are doing, you need only pretend. Eventually, after an unspecified amount of pretending, you will finally begin to feel confident, capable, and valued. 

In my experience, this has never been true. This is my fourth and final year at Aquinas. Hypothetically, I should feel more confident than ever, unfazed by anything. Alas, that is not the case. I walked into my first class and after the first fifteen minutes, started to feel overwhelmed. The primary thought gallivanting through my head was: I shouldn’t be here. I’m not qualified for this. 

Which, of course, wasn’t true. I’d taken all the prerequisites, read the necessary materials, and taken the time to understand the concepts necessary. Why then, did I still feel as though the only way to survive the class was simply to fake it, to pretend I had the confidence that in reality, I lacked? 

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This experience made me question how helpful the “fake it ‘till you make it” mindset actually was. I began to ask myself what would happen if I put less energy into faking (which is exhausting, by the way) and more energy into recalling and recognizing my own strengths? What would happen if, instead of telling myself that I had to pretend or put on an act in order to be successful, I told myself that I could be successful simply by being authentically myself? 

And so, as the academic year commences and you are confronted with seemingly insurmountable challenges, my invitation to you is this: As you walk into AB for the very first time, try replacing “fake it ‘till you make it,” with, “I’m going to be myself today. And that’s enough.”

Categories: Opinion, The Saint