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Fake it ‘Til You Make It

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There is a slogan I remembered this morning which brought everything together for me: fake it ‘til you make it. A couple years ago I suffered from obesity, high blood pressure, weak knees, and bad habits. I decided to take this pithy slogan and pretended to be a healthy and see what would happen.

One becomes what one pretends to be. If I pretend to be a health nut, then maybe I will forget who I really am – obese, unhealthy, and unfit – and before I know it I would lose myself to this delusion, swapping the old who I am (fat) with the new who I am (fit).

Like the stereotype of a health nut, I ate chicken breasts in small portions, joined and went to the gym, took sculling classes on the Potomac, bought sports clothing, and finally started running. For well over three months, I was still obese, still unhealthy, and still suffering from some pretty bad habits, including social smoking. Well, my health nut stereotype would of course persevere, suck it up, and finish the race!

While faking health, I lost 55-pounds, started running daily, and now fit into my college clothes. And my bad habits like smoking and overeating? Well, my new healthy body rejected these things. Was it hard? Well, yes it was hard work for the health nut I pretended to be, but it wasn’t impossible for him as was for me.

When I became aware that fake it ‘til you make it was such powerful magic, I started faking a lot of things. I had a hard time with trust. I started faking trust.

I knew that trust should never need to be earned and it should not be fickle, but I felt like a sucker and a dupe. I felt vulnerable, like I could be a mark for being taken advantage of. What was going on when I was not in the room? Was I being back stabbed? Was I a cuckold?

For me, it was impossible; but I was faking trust and so I was protected and could emulate trust pretty well; but, in order to really fake trust I needed to fake commitment, too.

Without being committed, there is nothing stable upon which trust can be built. In order to really fake trust and commitment, I needed to fake faith. Isn’t it easy to fake trust and commitment when things are going well and there is smooth sailing, but what happens when I am away, get spooked, or feel doubt? I need to have faith in my fake. I need to put more credence in my two-dimensional stereotypical icons of trust and commitment on which I model than who I was before, which wasn’t working for me.

So, how is it working for me? Well, I am still pretty much the jock. Although I can trust, I am still using training wheels and have to remember some simple rules: assume good intent; don’t panic; don’t react; easy does it; be trustworthy. I can fake commitment now because I have been doing so well faking trust. I have great expectations for faking faith and will let you know how it goes, but I have faith.

Dec 23, 2004 04:05 PM