• Day 69: Fake It Till You Make It?

    Date: 2010.05.07 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    I hit upon another scheme in my ongoing David (me) versus Goliath (the candy and dessert industrial-complex) on the plane back from Singapore last week when the flight attendant offered me an after-dinner dish of chocolates.

    “No thanks,” I told her breezily. “I don’t care for sweets.”

    For a few moments I reveled in my new fake identity – someone for whom chocolate holds no interest.   (I’ve met a few of these people, rare birds who profess not to have sweet teeth, and some of them may in fact be telling the truth.)

    I even felt smug for a minute – until I remembered I was lying to the flight attendant and am in fact not a person who doesn’t like chocolate.

    But I felt a power and energy radiating back from what I projected onto the flight attendant.  I bought myself a shot of superiority by putting my lie onto her.  “Lie” of course sounds so negative in this situation – and it’s possible, isn’t it, that by the very act of lying I could one day turn into a person who doesn’t like chocolate.

    Does faking it work when you’re trying to give up sugar?  Does it work in life, too?  I say yes – and no.

    I’m a big fan of being authentic, although I’m all too aware it may just be a nice label for someone who’d rather be just be silly and have fun than exercise a lot of tiresome self-discipline.

    As my life has gone on, I’ve learned the value of being one of those people who puts on their game face every morning and tells the world they are doing just great. Whether they are or not.

    It’s too easy to call it phony.  It’s more complicated and, I think, strategic than that. The energy they get from convincing other people (and themselves) they got it goin’ on and all is OK make their success and sanguinity real. And in the competition of life, you’ve got to watch out for these people because when you believe their game, you start to doubt yours.

    Also, these people accomplish a lot. And probably aren’t sugar addicts.

    I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill positive people.  I mean the real masters, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who literally create their environment by sheer force of will and refuse to be mere reactors in life like the rest of us.

    According to the “addictionary,” the phrase “fake it till you make it” comes from the 12-step program where newcomers are advised to act “as if” when trying to succeed at new, healthier behaviors.   Ideally, if you adhere in language and action to what you want to be,  you eventually morph into that which you strive to be.

    As Yoda said: “Do or do not… there is no try.”

    I know someone (midway between acquaintance and friend) who has had a tremendous amount of success in her field, after having a very tough childhood.  I haven’t spoken to her lately but she is another master of the art – if more subtle than Schwarzenegger and not as well-known.

    It wasn’t possible to have a conversation with her in which she allowed that her life was anything but fantastic.  That may sound obnoxious and she is not at all obnoxious. She’s a great person with excellent values. She is certainly nicer than I am.

    But I could never get to know her except on a very superficial level because I’d always run into this wall of how great she was doing.

    I will never forget one day more than five years ago when we were talking on the phone and she was on the verge of some truly amazing success.

    She began the conversation in a low, worried voice that was not at all like her.

    “I am so freaked out,” she said.

    I perked right up when I heard that.  She’s finally cracked a bit, I thought.  We’re going to bond over some problem she’s having.  The balance of power will be even between us.

    “What’s going on?” I asked, hopefully.

    She sighed.

    “I just can’t believe how many great things are happening to me,” she said. “I’m so blessed but it’s freaking me out.”

    Yep. You guessed it.

    I got taken once again.

    I’m sick of being so fucking authentic.