I was about to hit publish on this, but thought before doing so I would add in a little foreword. I am still recovering from the excruciating sciatica and the little accident I had this weekend, sitting still in my favourite spot (my couch), and going to work at some drafts that I’ve had waiting in the queue to fill my time. I admit, there was a brief time over the weekend where I was probably more highly medicated than I ought to have been, and did a little writing during that time, that I did not fully recall (oops!). I quizzically opened up this one from my drafts this evening and read through it with some amusement. With that in mind, I thought for kicks, since I put a fair deal of effort into, that I may as well hit the publish button! It’s a tad on the convoluted side, to say the least! And a bit nonsensical. But there may be a point or two in it somewhere that you might enjoy stumbling across – just as I did, just a few moments ago!
How many times have you caught yourself feeling like you’re faking it, and unhappy with yourself for it? And no, I don’t mean that. What I mean is when you’re doing something that’s different from the way that you would usually do it, or doing something to work on changing yourself, and you feel like you’re faking it. That feeling when you feel like that’s not who you are. You tell yourself that who you are is who you’re supposed to be – the only person you are supposed to be. You may even be accused of being a ‘poser’. You feel bad about not accepting yourself the way that you actually are.
Well, what if I said that you are not faking it – you are just becoming the person you are going to be. Or you are going to be a better you for it. So you should go ahead and ‘fake it’. If you don’t like something about yourself, go ahead and change. Bad advice, right?
Well, I should clarify that I am not talking about not accepting yourself just the way you are. The opposite. You should love and adore yourself exactly as you are, and as you have been. I am not talking about pretending to be somebody else. No, you should only be yourself. But what I am talking about is when you know you have an issue with something that (and this is very important) you have the ability to actually change – and let’s say that’s speaking in social settings. If you do have problems speaking in social settings and are perfectly content to be and stay that way, and you are happy, or have something that completely prevents you from it, then great. No sarcasm, so long as you’re happy with yourself or you can’t, then there’s no problem with it. But, for instance, if you are afraid to speak out in public but find it is hindering crucial aspects of your life or you feel you would be happier being able to do so (even if you are happy overall with the way you are, and just think you could be more so), then the only way is just to do it. It’s to be uncomfortable. It’s to put on a braver face than the one you are really feeling. It’s to act contrary to how you actually are – it is to (what you would describe it as, anyhow) fake it. You may feel like you’re faking it, and for some of you, you – with all of the media hype as of late, telling you to just be exactly as you are, to never change, to be proud of yourself as is – have also been guilted into thinking that being different from how you are is a bad thing, and that you’re being disingenuous, but you are in fact just practicing, because one day it will become comfortable to you and no longer fill you with the same anxiety – and one day you will realize this stoic – or dare I say even relaxed – faced individual speaking out in a crowd, on a date, or on a podium somewhere is in fact you. You are not faking it. This is the person you now are.
This extends most visibly in body acceptance throughout the media. We now denounce larger celebrities for doing anything that they consider for themselves to be self–improvement (usually in the way of losing weight) because they are supposed to be our more realistic sized body role models, they should love themselves the way they are; if they have ever spoken out about something like body acceptance we feel they are making a mockery of those with similar type bodies when we realize they no longer fit in – or want to – that mold.
Why should these people who tell you to love yourself the way they are want to change who they are? Many are, in fact, happy with the way they are and love themselves the way they are. The same as I did when I was 95ish pounds, the same as I did when I was 140 pounds. They loved themselves. I loved myself. But that love was for who I was as a person. I accepted myself – the way I looked and my level of fitness. But I knew I could have a better level of fitness. I knew that I would feel better if I got to a healthy weight (in regards to both gaining and losing). I also wanted to gain and fill out some jeans better, and (later on) adversely wanted to lose weight and be able to fit back into those same jeans. It never occurred to me not to be proud of who I was and to not love myself at whatever size, and never once deterred me from wearing a bikini at the beach – but I would have preferred a certain level of fitness, health and a certain weight/size range, and I worked at achieving that goal. I had no issue with my size or appearance and my self love on either end of the spectrum, and see no issue with people on any end of the spectrum – I just had a goal; I made the personal decision that I was not doing the best I could for myself, given the resources I had, and worked on changing those things for myself.
Back to these celebrity women, once they have achieved the goal they were working towards they get called out by the critics and once followers as being “A fat girl not accepting who she is”, “Being someone she’s not”, “Sellout”, “She’s being fake”. Even Ed Sheeran was criticized by many upon learning of the port wine tattoo he had removed and for working at correcting his stutter.
The only drawback to encouraging people to be happy with who they are and to be who they are (which is amazing advice, by the way) is that many people employ this logic as their excuse to quash all self improvement efforts. Out of fear or lack of follow through. Or they criticize and shame others for doing so.
The moment accepting and loving the person that you are becomes a problem is when you are only putting in and maintaining a mediocre output, and when you are internally desirous of something which you have the power to achieve, and using your ‘self-acceptance’ (which you may very well have) to justify it to others.
How to illustrate that? Well, to draw a crude example, there is a book. You’ve always wondered how it ends up, after the story having been recommended by friends; you have the ability and comprehensive skills to be able to successfully complete it. Yet you stop halfway through, and go on wondering how that story ends. Your life hasn’t much changed and you are still happy with it and yourself, even though you will never know how that book ends. Many people have read that book in its entirety. Many have not even heard of it. Many have put it down without finishing. And you don’t judge others for their different approaches to this book. But what is your reason for your lack of follow through, when you were so interested in finding out if the ending was a happy one or not? “I never read a book all the way through, I only ever read halfway through. This is who I am; I’m just being myself, and I accept myself this way.” Now wouldn’t that sound silly?
So how is that different from realizing that you speak only in valley girl, pirate, sarcasm, twang or slang and dress the part, and switch to wearing more formal attire and speaking more properly (meaning more formal or stilted with an emphasis on proper enunciation) and practice using words you found in your word of the day calendar? You were perfectly content with who you were prior to this change. You were happy. You accepted yourself. But you wanted to do what you thought was better – let’s say you wanted to work in a professional field, or just thought that these things were better and could make you happier. You’re not faking it. You may feel like you are. Your peer group may even criticize you for it, or say things like they don’t know “what you’re playing at”. But you are becoming the person you are going to be. You may feel uncomfortable at first, but you have an end goal in mind, and you are just conditioning yourself for it.
If that sounds a little trite and confusing, we can compare it to getting a degree. You start out with just the general level University course and no prior knowledge, of let’s say, the medical field. You know you could likely get some job with just that. Maybe you’ll even find one you like. But you feel like your life would be better if you were a doctor, and you feel as if you would be happier being that. So you write the MCATS, you go on to med school, you get the training, the placement, the residency, and eventually open your own clinic. You weren’t a doctor at the start, but you were at the end. Nowhere in going through any of the steps to get there were you faking it. It was all in preparation of getting someplace you thought was better – and the person you could be. Nobody is going to accuse you of only pretending to be a doctor – you actually are one. And you took all of the required steps to get there, which included trying things for the first time as a student that only a ‘real’ doctor would do.
Yet you were still happy with who you were at the start of it all.
It is the same with self improvement. You love yourself the way you are, and if not then you should. You accept yourself the way you are. You accept others that have a similar situation as yours. Yet you want something different and you have the tools and wherewithal to get you there, so you take the steps to get there…. in essence, you ‘fake it’. And when this comes to your habits, your dress, your speech, your public response to things, even the way you interact with others, if you feel like being different from what you are in a respect that qualifies as self-improvement (again, not pretending to be someone else entirely, or something you do not have the means to change) would better your life or make you happier, then go ahead and change that, and ‘fake it’… um… until you make it.