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When it comes to stepping outside of comfort zones and taking risks, “fake it till you make it” has been the entrusted pearl of wisdom.

Both personally and professionally, the aphorism emphasizes the importance of confidence over skill. It’s meant to alleviate the pressure to have it all figured out by supplementing readiness with valor.

While this approach has merit, many people’s interpretation of this phrase has left them entangled with imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is acute anxiety marked by feelings of being a “fraud.” Many people with imposter syndrome think they are undeserving or incapable of success. 

The most high-performing and talented people can suffer from imposter syndrome, even with tangible proof of skill. But the “fake it till you make it” mentality can cause an over investment in the facade instead of an investment in growth.

Understanding Your “Why”

It’s important to understand what’s behind your desire to “fake it till you make it.”

Are you trying to fit the mold of something you think looks good to others (Your parents, followers, partner, etc.?)

Are you pretending to like a socially praised job or relationship with the hope it’s something you’ll eventually enjoy?

Are you faking your entire personality to find community and purpose in ways that are mainstream or more socially acceptable?

Putting on a front catches up with you over time. People eventually see through the cracks of our curated image.

The performance becomes exhaustive, and what we thought would be a shortcut to happiness becomes a means of survival instead of success.

Faking it till you make it, especially in your career, can damage your reputation as a professional and leave you (and those around you) feeling confused and uncertain.

How to Drop the Act And Get Ahead

Applying the “fake it till you make it” mantra to your life can be beneficial with balance.

You can feel emboldened to convince yourself and others of your worthiness by building confidence and a skill set.

To do this, keep another aphorism in mind: Don’t talk about it, be about it. Instead of relying on pretending to be the part, be the part. 

If you need to convince someone to take a risk on you, confidence and skill go hand-in-hand. You may not have the years of experience required for a specific role.

Rather than exaggerating your previous job responsibilities, you can present a plan to become an expert in your field.

“Instead of relying on pretending to be the part, be the part.” — Nancy Twine

Seeking a community and struggling to connect? Review how you show up in your relationships. Do you share your interests and opinions openly or agree and adapt to keep connections?

What you think is strange or boring about you may be exactly what draws in your most aligned connections.

Faking confidence in order to share those interests or attributes lets you practice resilience and vulnerability. (Both are worth having in your repertoire.)

The Reframe: Face It Till You Ace It

In order to really understand what “fake it till you make it” means, you should consider reframing it.

“Face it till you ace it” is a reminder to tackle the unknown head-on. Have the confidence to seek what you desire and the will to do what’s necessary to reach, sustain, and advance your achievements.

Don’t be afraid to be seen trying. Ultimately, your happiness comes from aligning yourself with your passions, joys, and truth. Find where you can show up more fully and give yourself the boost you need to be seen.

Where are you faking it instead of facing it? Share your reflections in the comments!