Why I can’t stand the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a campaign called Women of Science. One topic that came up was how to deal with a lack of confidence in your ability. Some people find having a motto can help give them a boost. 

“Fake it til you make it!” is something that I have heard a lot over the last few years, especially working in academia where imposter syndrome is rife (not sure what imposter syndrome is? Link below for more info). Fake it til you make it is all about ‘acting as if’ something you want to happen has already happened. In theory, this seems to work, for example science shows that dressing for the job you want could actually improve your performance (link below to check out the facts).

But, scientific results aside there is just something about this phrase that does not sit right with me at all. The idea that I would ever go into an experience knowingly “faking it” makes me shudder! I realise that the whole purpose of this phrase is to build confidence but how confident will you really end up if you felt like you faked your way to where you are?

In my opinion one of the dangers with fake it til you make it is that when failure occurs (which it will sometimes) it can feed self-doubt. If you ‘fail’ and you felt like you were faking being your best self and it still wasn’t “good enough” then this just feeds the negative thought pattern that you as you are would not have been good enough either…it’s a dangerous cycle and I just don’t think it’s good for anyone.

This isn’t me saying that I am super confident, because I don’t think that I am overly confident. I used to get extremely nervous about public speaking especially, but my nerves have improved with practice. But the main thing that has improved my confidence is the phrase “feel the fear and do it anyway” and the reason that I love this mentality so much is because it allows me to be authentic.


“Feel the fear and do it anyway” sits so much better with me because it acknowledges that fear is there, but more importantly it acknowledges that even if you’re scared you should still give things a go. My world changed the moment I started to answer my “what if something goes wrong?” anxious thoughts with “whatever happens, I’ll handle it because everything can be figured out.”

Since changing my mentality it has made me so much more ambitious and confident to aim high. I know that I will fail sometimes, and this is especially true in research where rejection is a normal part of this career! But genuinely, failures do not set me back as much as they did. Now I simply assess what happened, what can I do differently next time and then I start figuring out what to do next. because there is always something that can be done.

Finally, I think being truthful that you are scared can really help you to connect with others. There have been times where I have been extremely nervous, for example when starting my role as a lecturer. But I have found it helpful to admit to people “you know what, I’m actually pretty nervous right now but I’m feeling the fear and doing it anyway!” and it’s really helped me to build meaningful relationships. Also, I hope it shows that fear is normal but you should never let it hold you back.

I’d be so interested to hear your thoughts about this topic! Does fake it til you make it work for you? Or do you have another motto that gives you confidence? Please do get in touch…comment below or find me on Facebook here or Twitter here.


Chrissy x

Imposter syndrome: https://makingitmindful.com/2016/02/14/feeling-like-a-fraud-youre-not-the-only-one/

The impact of clothes on your performance: file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Temp/labcoatarticle.pdf




4 responses to “Why I can’t stand the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality

  1. As a trainee teacher, I am faced with several moments a day that ask me to “face the fear”, and I definitely think I have embraced that mentality. As (I think) they say, it’s not about the goal, it’s about the journey. You learn more in those moments of self doubt or during the times you fail, than when you do something you knew how to do before you started: you’re never perfect at anything right at the beginning, and that is something I have come to realise, and accept. Instead of backing away from the possibility of failure, you need to embrace the anxiety, the self doubt – the unknown – and face it head on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s used as a way to maybe “wing” things a bit but ultimately if someone says that they can do something well that they can’t actually do then yes, potentially could be seen as lying!


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