Watson: Fake it till you make it

Scott Watson

Society today places so much stress on being an individual, the idea of self-improvement and striving to be something more is often thrown under the bus as character flaws are ignored and justified as “being yourself.” Nobody should ever be so vain as to accept “who they are” as sufficient, never seeking further personal progression.

“Fake it till you make it.” This is a fantastic phrase, optimistic and sensibly succinct with an all too true message. The meaning is straightforward — no one is original, everyone started in the same place, it’s those who persevere through the unknown who “make it.”

Why is “fake” such a common term for high-grade malignity? It doesn’t make sense to remain stagnantly poised with one set of character traits for all time, forever clutching the already known, never grasping for more. A person’s interests and traits should be constantly evolving to fit their environment and where they wish to be in the future. To not change is to be stagnant, content with who you are and failing to see any room for improvements. Thus, to change is to evolve, to become something you were not before.

Even Lady Gaga, undoubtedly one of the most unique people to influence our generation, is “fake.” She wouldn’t be who she is without Madonna or David Bowie or anybody with a unique fashion sense before her. There was a probably a time in her life before her days of meat suits when she was a regular, American Eagle-clad girl. Eventually, she decided she no longer wanted to be that person and began taking steps toward becoming the person she is today.

Patti Smith, an influential musician of the 1960s, wrote in her book “Just Kids” about how she and her boyfriend moved to New York from the Midwest with no particular skills or talents, only dreams. To make money and pass the time, they picked up hobbies: music and painting. They knew nothing and didn’t fit in with the artist culture, but were so passionate and perhaps desperate that they eventually developed enough skill that people began to buy their art. They made themselves into the people they wanted to be — they “faked it” long enough to “make it.”

There are many people, especially teenagers, confused why the world perceives them in a certain way, but the answer is simple — you are what you do. If you play video games, you’re a gamer; partiers party; students study; teachers teach. You get the picture. Granted, our hobbies do not entirely define us (i.e., values, past experiences, etc.), but it’s what we present to the world of ourselves that creates their images or schemas of us.

Awareness of who we are as a person, what our goals are and the image we portray of ourselves to others is how we know where we are headed in life. If you don’t like it, change it.

Becoming the person you want to be doesn’t happen overnight. People seem to not realize that to be good at anything requires an insane amount of time and practice. When I was younger, I wanted to be good at basketball. My abilities reflected my enthusiasm for the sport — mediocre. The same can be said of schoolwork; if you don’t practice the lessons, your grasp of the concepts will be limited. Nobody is born skilled, and I don’t believe talent is inherited genetically; they are both learned and practiced traits.

Success does not have to be overly simplified to selfish desires; striving to be a better father, a better wife, more religious or simply becoming a better person are all noble goals to shoot for. If you long for something more, or even to be better, quit wishing and start doing. Begin with the basics and build off that. Repetition makes practice and practice makes perfect.

Forget “being yourself.” You are capable of being so much more; be the person you want to be, the person you can be.