Friday, October 11, 2013

Fake It Til You Make It

This is a common sentiment in AA circles; for the uninitiated, AA = Alcoholics Anonymous.  In other words, you may not feel like it, but act like it until it's real.

This leads me to something I read in a book called, Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. (I heard about this book from another blog written by Kristen Lamb.)  The book is about creativity.  In the chapter, "Don't Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started," Kleon says, " If I'd waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started being creative, well, I'd still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things.  In my experience, it's in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.  You're ready.  Start making stuff.  You might be scared to start.  That's natural.  There's this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people.  It's called impostor syndrome.   The clinical definition is:  a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.  It means that you feel like a phony, like you're just winging it, that you really don't have any idea what you're doing.  Guess what:  none of us do.  Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they'll tell you the truth:  they don't know where the good stuff comes from.  They just show up to do their thing.  Every day."

I don't know about you, but whenever I hear about or read about something that I thought only happened to me, I'm so relieved that other people have felt that way.  Even better - there's a name for it.

When I first started my social work career, I was 23, fresh out of graduate school, with my first apartment and first car.  I felt so inadequate because I didn't have any experience, and this was my first job.  Of course, you have to have a first job so you can have some experience.  God bless the first employer that gives you a chance.

I remember pushing my grocery cart around the store, shopping for food that my meager paycheck would afford me.  I felt like any second, someone was going to come up behind me, tap me on my shoulder, and say, "Give it up.  We know you're not an adult."  I was just going through the motions, playing at being a grown up.

Now, all these years later, I find out there's a name for it, and it's a syndrome  that "runs rampant in educated people."  Who knew?  I didn't.  But I'm so relieved to know that others have felt this way, and it's a real thing.

So getting back to the title, "Fake it til you make it," even though I've never thought of myself as creative, if I show up and do the work, it'll happen.  What do they say about creativity?  It's 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.  In other words, you gotta work hard to make something happen that's worthwhile.


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