I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say ‘fake it, til you make it.’ Hell, I'm sure I've wheeled it out in the past when it felt like nothing was working for me. The problem with that approach, however, is at some point you get really good at faking it. Really good at looking like you have your shit together. You focus more energy on faking it rather than on making it, because that’s the easy bit.
I’ve become a master at faking it, of smiling like everything is fine and dandy even if I’m drowning. Social media doesn’t help, we’re all seeing everyone's best bits. The wins and successes. That makes it feel like the faking is even more important.
For authors, we’re always told to put our best foot forward. But we’re human. We have those days where everything overwhelms and it feels like our work sucks and we’re never going to claw our way out of the deadline hole. Faking it doesn’t help.
So, maybe we should focus less on putting on a front. Because there’s no ‘made it’ moment. Each time we achieve a goal, we set a new one. That’s the beauty of ambition. It's constant and evolving. So don’t bother faking it. Be real, work on believing in yourself, and delight in the fact that there will always be something more to achieve.
It took me a long time to make that shift. Lots of reflection and stumbling and dusting myself off. Here are a few tips that helped me to build real confidence instead of simply building the image of confidence:
1. Remember that one person's opinion doesn’t define you. If you come across some who dislikes your work or criticizes your approach, remember it's only one opinion. It isn’t fact and you don’t need to treat it as such. People criticize for all different reasons, and many of them have nothing to do with the person on the receiving end.
2. How you would advise your BFF? When you're in the throes of beating yourself up, take a step back and pretend you’re giving advice to someone else. See what comes out. I guarantee it’ll be less harsh than what you say to yourself. It's hard to be objective when viewing yourself, but this trick helped me out of the doubt-spiral on more than one occasion.
3. Give yourself permission to feel crap. It's totally normal to feel upset if something doesn't work out that way you wanted it. Trying to ignore those bad feelings won't help, it'll just teach you to suppress your feelings instead of actually dealing with the issue. But after you've wallowed for a bit, take a moment to reflect how you would do things differently next time and make a plan in case it happens again.
4. Know your talismans. A kickass lipstick always makes me feel good. Know what your ‘talismans’ are - those items that make you feel powerful. Maybe it’s a hot pair of heels, or a perfume that reminds you of a good time. Maybe it’s a favourite pen that makes your handwriting look better than all the others. Use it! These items shouldn't be a crutch, but sometimes we need a little boost. Start there, and then work on spreading that confidence further.
Love, Stef (who is currently NOT faking it by wearing Uggs, not wearing a bra and blogging instead of working on her WIP #authorlife)