Home Work Career Confessions Fake It Til’ You Make It!

“The ‘I’m young & female complex’ has got to go!” This has been my daily mantra since beginning my job search two months ago.

I woke up mid-January and realized that due to my “no one in their right mind would take a gamble on a young female for an upper management position, especially in the state of the economy” complex, I was slacking off in a dead-end job. You can call it procrastinating, skimping by, milkin’ it… but the actual name is called FEAR.

Here I am, a young/female scaredy cat, unable to move forward for fear that I won’t be taken seriously. This is nonsense considering my background: I graduated in 2006 double majoring in Marketing, and International Business. I immediately got a job at a publishing company, followed by a position in the underwriting department of a Public Radio station while multi-tasking grad school (MBA completed in August 2010). It seems that on paper, I am qualified for upper management. Five solid years of experience plus a Master in Business Administration should certainly equal a position higher than Coordinator shouldn’t it? Then why don’t I feel like I deserve it?

I sell myself short. I’ve been doing it forever. It’s easy to play the tough, confident, thinks-on-her feet employee when in the spotlight, but when it comes time to apply for a job that would really raise me up and get me some street cred, I sink into my chair in my coordinator’s office and remain thankful for my measly paycheck because at least I have a job. It’s the safe zone. It’s warm and stress-free, and my bosses love me. So what’s the problem? No challenges.

The issues of challenge bring me to mention those who are internally motivated (Nicole – Ms. Career Girl), versus the externally motivated (Me). I hate that I am only motivated externally. If there’s not something in it for me (a bonus check, a pat on the back, a cookie), than my interest and efforts are never quite 100%. This is my #1 Fear Inducer. How can I pretend in an interview that I am motivated simply by doing a job well done? If I put this face on, will they know I’m a fraud?

Now it’s time for the ‘Fake it Til’ You Make it’ speech. It might not be the right way… but it is certainly a better way than fear-induced slacking. Am I scared that I won’t get taken seriously? Am I scared that I won’t live up to my fake persona? Am I even more unbelievably scared that I will actually get hired for one of these wonderful opportunities, and end up being a disaster at my job? Yes, yes, and hell yes. However, whether Faking It is wrong or mildly on the right track, it is nonetheless, an initiative.

Just recently, I somehow managed to convince a panel of phone interviewers that I had the go-getter mentality, and what do you know? I just so happened to convince myself that as well! The past few weeks since that call, I have been proactive at my happy challenge-free job; I’ve been working hard to cut out slacking from my daily routine; I started researching ways to get ahead and move towards my career goals (which led me here), and I even took the initiative to write Ms. Career Girl and display my attempts to get out of the trenches. If you as an individual try faking it and it doesn’t at least get you half a step forward, I apologize and suggest a good dose of Legally Blonde. (If Elle can get a Harvard Law degree, why can’t you?)

Good bye young/female complex. You’re history.

12 replies to this post
  1. Bre, I probably had the opposite problem in my career: I knew I could conquer problems if just given the chance, but what I considered “willingess to face a challenge” was interpreted as “over eager and seeking approval.” It’s funny, you are bred to be a go-getter in school, that it’s totally fine to be #1, then you move into the working world, and your first few jobs include squashing that drive that may have even gotten you the job. Then you’re supposed to turn the drive back on again for promotions, but not too much because you could be cocky. It can be worse than dating if you ask me…good luck with your career, I bet this new perspective will reward you well!

  2. You’re fab, B. Seriously. And I always knew you were the go-getter, you just needed to know it yourself. Keep it up, and if you ever need a pep talk, I will do my best to deliver. Love you!

  3. Great article, Bre. I am a total believer in “fake it till you make it”. It’s important to always be yourself but it’s also important to incorporate a portion of what you aspire to be (this is what could be considered the “faking it” part). It’s still 100% genuine but it’s digging deep and discovering who you really could be if you just challenged yourself…if you just believed in yourself. I “fake it” in many areas of my life. For me, “faking it” helps me bridge the gap between where I am and where I want to be. When I wanted to start my Boot Camp business I started to think and talk like a business owner, although I hadn’t yet become one, and sure enough, in a matter of a month I was a business owner. Whatever you believe your mind, body and actions will follow. Believe, “fake it”, and become whatever your heart desires.

    • Anela – thanks for your insight! I definitely fake it in the areas that I aspire to be better.. you hit it right on the nose. Thanks for your insight and encouragement!

  4. It sounds like you don’t have to fake it! But I understand the feeling, and I’d say you’re dead on about the fear.. fear of saying aloud, “I am as awesome as I look on paper.” I think it is so hard to “sell” yourself!

  5. I am currently reading a book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The first habit goes hand-in-hand with acting externally. The habit #1 indicates that in order to be proactive and accomplish goals, we need to feed off our internal motivations.

    I recommend you read the book! It sounds like it’s right up your alley right about now :-) I would know – I am in your same boat.

    Great post!


    • Thanks, Ashley!

      I will definitely have to check out that book. If there is anything that can convince me to work harder without providing me with a cookie at the end, I will do it!

      Best Wishes,

  6. Fake it till you make it, I love it! Whenever I start anything, I always feel like there are so many more people who out qualify me that even if I’m an expert in something, it seems like I’m still a beginner. And like you’ve said, I fear that I’ll be a disaster. It’s only after seeing that I had never screwed up much in any of the things I’ve started that I learned that things aren’t as hard as they seem, and we DO deserve whatever we are “qualified” for. It’s a matter of not being scared of going with the punches, because if you do mess up, you should believe that you’ll learn from it and improve.

  7. Well, well! You’re going high places with such attitude, Bre! Couldn’t afford to leave here without my take. Because you’re the kind of person I’d like to work with, work for or work against. You bring the meaning into the words driven, focused, motivated and passionate! Keep it up!

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