“Fake it till you make it.” I’ve heard this saying a million times. And for most of my life I tried to fake it, waiting for that happy day when I could get up in the morning and say, “I made it!” And even though I am in a much better frame of mind now than I was for most of my life, I don’t think that the ‘fake it till you make it’ attitude helped me at all.
I’m not saying its bad advice. It may be good advice for a rational mind. A confident person knows it means you don’t have to let your emotions rule you, that whatever your circumstances are, everything will be okay eventually, and you can smile when you don’t feel like it because it will help make you feel better.
But to my broken, irrational, emotional mind, ‘fake it till you make it’ meant I must pretend I am okay so no one else sees the crazy inside me. So, I pretended every day. I put on a smile when I felt like a vacuum inside. I kept hoping to get to a place where I felt real; authentic. The trouble is, it is hard to be authentic when you are faking it.
I put all my energies into thinking about the size of my body because I thought that being authentic meant being thin. But as my body size changed over the years, whether big or small, I still had that same feeling that I couldn’t be the real me. No one would want to know the real me because the real me was not a good person.
Then one day I realized that nothing was going to be different if I kept faking it. I had to change, but wasn’t sure how to begin. It was about this time I began attending a small church in our neighborhood. And I’m not saying you must go to church to learn how to be authentic, but for me the timing was right. I heard something there that resonated with me and started a transformation in my thinking.
The pastor called all the little children to come around him and sit. Then he asked them this question. “What do you have to do to earn Gods love?” All the kids raised their hands and gave answers like, -be good, -obey your parents, or-don’t hit your little brother. The pastor encouraged them and told them all these things were very good, but he was looking for another answer. One little boy in the back of the group didn’t raise his hand, but the pastor called on him anyway. “Jimmy, what do you think?” Jimmy looked at all the other kids like he was trying to think of an answer that wasn’t already mentioned. Finally, he scrunched up his face and asked, “Nothing?” The pastor bellowed, “Yes, Jimmy, that’s exactly right. You don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love, you have it now, you had it when you were born, you will have it for the rest of your life.”
I always heard that God loved me, but I believed I had to work very hard to earn that love; to be good enough. The trouble was, I missed the mark somehow. I just never was good enough for some reason. I held myself responsible for how others thought about me and extended that to God.
When I finally realized that I was valuable just the way I was, there was relief. It wasn’t like a big rush of liberation, it was more like a pinprick that eased a little pressure. And each day, a little more tension was released until I truly believed in my goodness. And with a true belief in my value, I didn’t have to fake it anymore.
Sometimes, now, I smile when I am sad, but not to fake it or hide my sorrow from others. I smile because I know it will help ease my pain and may even help someone else. And now, I do most things because I want to; not because I force myself to.
Knowing my value allows me to function at a higher level. It allows my body and mind to be more in sync. I can acknowledge my feelings instead of hiding them or being ashamed of them, and I know my value is the same, regardless of my emotions, body size, or actions.
I used to think that people who thought they were valuable were arrogant. But arrogance comes from thinking we have achieved our value only because of our outstanding merits. The truth is, there is nothing we can do, or fail to do, that will affect our value.
We can call this inherent value God’s love or call it our place in the universe. But the knowledge and acceptance of it takes the need to ‘fake it’ away, and helps us be authentic.
You don’t have to fake anything. You are already valuable.