Fake it and you won’t make it

Jordyn Toscano, @jordyn.toscano

Many individuals believe that if you pre- tend to be confident, you eventually become confident. There was a time where I fell for this concept as well.

Throughout the beginning of high school, I pretended to be someone I wasn’t in the hopes of becoming that confident person in the future. Let me tell you, pretending to be someone you’re not does nothing other than hurt yourself and the people around you.

Initially you might feel powerful, you might feel like you’re on top of the world. But, acting like you’re confident can lead to denial and hubris, and a reduction in empathy — and it increases selfish tendencies. Eventually, you begin to feel like an imposter, a liar; a shell of the person you used to be. By constantly pretending, you end up losing yourself.

Taking into consideration all the harmful aspects of faux confidence, those who pretend to be confident often learn that it doesn’t work quickly. Their perspective of self shifts and becomes warped.

It’s not the act of faking confidence that makes you confident, it’s what you do to develop this facade that contributes to the growth of your own self confidence.

Think about it: in order to act as if you’re confident, you’ll need to go up to new people, talk in front of crowds and try new things. Your entire mindset changes. Faux confidence is an unhealthy shortcut to true confidence, with no guarantees.

You’re not alone fighting an internal battle for confidence: 85 percent of individuals in the United States suffer from low self esteem, according to Psychology Today.

That is a big problem that our society has failed to recognize and address. Whether or not you view yourself as a “confident person,” you have the ability to make an impact on the confidence of others, no matter if it’s positive or negative.

Not only do those 85 percent have low self-esteem, “the stress of their emotional suppression in order to act confident wasn’t just palpable, it was contagious,” according to a research project conducted at Stanford University.

You have the ability to affect the confidence of those around you, intentionally or unintentionally. When you pretend to be someone you’re not, you hinder the comfortability of those in proximity to you.

The phrases “Fake it till you make it”, “Life is all about winging it”, “Pretend to be the dream version of yourself and you’ll become that person” are all lies. They’re just misleading catch phrases that our society has normalized in order to make life easier.

It’s been proven that acting as if you’re confident when you genuinely aren’t hurts you more than it helps you.

I’ve told people the same thing: if you’re afraid to do something, do it afraid. Face fear and prove it wrong. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Don’t tell others that you are who you aspire to be, show them the real you and let them help you become that dream version of yourself.

You may not realize it, but there are many other people out there who are also scared. People who don’t like speaking in front of crowds or trying new things, and that’s okay. But, don’t lie and pretend you aren’t afraid. Be honest with yourself and others.

Aim for self compassion. Self compassion is the act of showing yourself compassion when you fail, which implies that you tried. Do the things you’re afraid of while you’re afraid, and then show yourself compassion if you failed, because at least tried. That’s more than most people can say for themselves.

Accept your humanity, don’t blame yourself for all your mistakes and show yourself compassion. Maybe then you’ll become “self-confident.”