I’ve lived my life by one maxim and one maxim alone: fake it ’til you make it, baby.
Recently, it was brought to my attention that I have “made it” and I thought, “Well just fine!” until it all came crashing down.
You see, in my haste to “make it”–which, had I known “making it” meant drowning in debt, I probably wouldn’t have dove head first into my pursuit of “making it”–, I fear that I may have lost myself in the faking it and have only succeeded in becoming fraudulent. Yes, a big, fat phoney pile of fraud. Me, a guy who made it.
This sudden anxiety-ridden identity crisis is what we in the community informally call “imposture syndrome” or “imposter syndrome” or also “imposter phenomenon” and also “fraud syndrome.” Coined in the 1970s, sufferers of “imposture syndrome” / “imposter syndrome” / “imposter phenomenon” / “fraud syndrome” are unable to internalize their accomplishments.
Despite an infinite amount of tangible evidence that supports their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success–or, in my case, massive amounts of debt–they have achieved. Any attempt to provide proof of their success is dismissed as luck, timing or a happy byproduct of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Not even a million reminders that no one has any idea what they are doing at any time can reassure the sufferer that they are not a fraud, a fake, a phoney.
So what can be done to overcome these irrational feelings of fraud?
Eventually, after much deliberation about your authenticity, you must come to accept that there is no such thing as authenticity. Not for human beings, anyway. What is being authentic? Is it treating everyone in exactly the same manner without considering the context? We represent ourselves differently to different people all the time, without being dishonest. OK, well, sometimes with being dishonest. But that doesn’t change the fact that you are constantly changing with new experiences, information, etc. Unless you are consciously lying to people at every opportunity, you are being true yourself so tell those feelings of fraud to fuck right off. And if in your ever-changing existence you happened to translate it into some success, good for you!
Of course, accepting this is much easier said than done. Thankfully, faking an acceptance that authenticity is artifice and that you are fluid by nature will eventually help you convince yourself that you’re true. It may seem counterintuitive to fake overcoming imposter syndrome, but faking has taken you this far. Why stop now?
Fake it ’til you make it, baby.