Notes on Faking it ‘Til You Make It.

Fake it ’til you make it” is a common catchphrase mostly referencing a person’s fear of not being confident enough.

In fact, this mentality is a actually a common technique used by therapists to combat depression. Patients are encouraged go through life’s everyday motions as if they were enjoying them, and eventually, they will enjoy them again. When I was at the absolute peak of heartbreak a few months ago, my friend also told me to try to “fake it ’til I make it” in regards to my own personal healing (while also allowing myself plenty of time to cry and grieve). I believe that this philosophy can additionally be applied at work.

COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg references the “Fake it ’til you make it” phenomenon several times throughout her book, Lean In.  Sandberg explains that many people, but especially women, feel fraudulent when they are applauded or congratulated for a job well done,  rather than feeling deserving of praise.

“Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made. Despite being high achievers, even experts in their fields, women can’t seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they are found out for who they really are — impostors with limited skills or abilities….This phenomenon of capable people being plagued by self-doubt has a name — the impostor syndrome.” -Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In

During her time at university, Sandberg claimed that she “felt like a fraud her whole life”, and that even today, she sometimes still doesn’t feel completely confident in herself.


I’ve been teaching English at the international school for four months now, and the other day I found myself asking my inner-self, “When will I stop feeling so insecure about my abilities? When will I start feeling confident about my teaching and my choices in novels and curriculum and what I am doing, and how I am benefitting these students’ learning? I feel like I’m a fraud and I don’t really deserve to have a job at this school alongside so many qualified individuals.”

I talked about my insecurities in regards to my profession with my therapist– my classroom management needs a lot of work, I fear I’m not consistent enough, I’ve never taught literature or poetry before and I don’t know if I’m doing it right, I feel like I haven’t made progress with some students, I’m fearful of parents, my Bachelor’s Degree in French and ESL education isn’t enough, students dislike my lessons, soon I’ll be found out and they’ll have my contract annulled and my visa denied and I’ll never be able to get back into the international school network. 

There’s a part of me that’s always felt this way. I remember feeling this way when I taught Business English to university students. I remember feeling this way when I taught French and ESL. Every time I meet someone who reads this blog, and they have nothing but nice, heartwarming things to say about my work or my writing, there’s a part of me that feels fraudulent– that someday, someone is going to discover just how unqualified and wrong I really am.

On a somewhat related note, Sandberg also references that a woman will only apply for a position if she feels that she is 100% qualified, while a man will apply for a position if he meets 60% of the requirements. Women face more difficulties in the work force, but sometimes, they have a tendency to keep themselves at the bottom because of this subconscious practice. Sometimes, faking it ’til you make it — learning as you go– is what gets you to the top.

I’ve taken initiative since I started my new position. I’ve gone to two conferences– one in Copenhagen and one in Paris. I’ve read blogs and articles and websites; I’ve collaborated with colleagues and friends and family members who are also teachers. I ask for help and advice when I need it, and go out of my way to get involved. I acknowledge that I have so much to learn and so many skills to revamp– but that I do need to be confident in giving myself more credit. I am a certified, qualified teacher; I teach seven different classes, work more than full time, help out with the boarding house, and am learning a new, different school system.

In many ways, I’m trying to “Fake it ’til I make it”– learn as I go, ignore the negative feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, and remember that I was hired for a reason.

Although I vowed not to make any New Year’s resolutions, as I head into 2017, I’m going to really try to remember to carry this new mentality when we pick back up after the holidays.





9 thoughts on “Notes on Faking it ‘Til You Make It.

  1. I have major imposter syndrome! I get loads of positive feedback from my professors but I still feel like I’m not doing a good job and I should be doing better. I am usually very self-deprecating even when I do feel like I know what I’m doing, so I really have to work on the whole “fake it until you make it” thing as I will have to go on a lot of interviews for internships soon!

    Also, I’m super impressed by the kind of work you’re doing now! I would have no idea where to begin with literature and poetry. It sounds like you are totally kicking ass, and I hope that you do give yourself more credit, as you said – you deserve it.

  2. I so relate to this. I felt like SUCH a fraud when I was teaching English, I had absolutely no guidance and didn’t know who to ask. I researched online classroom lesson plans but it was so overwhelming that I basically phone it in. I knew I would not renew past the one year by the first few months in.

    And when I got this job I have now (I work for a digital comics distributor that is now a subsidiary of Amazon), I had zero knowledge of digital comics. The job has changed a lot since I started but at first I felt like such a fraud. I wasn’t a huge comic book fan (still not), I had no technical skills, I didn’t know how the systems worked and was just bumbling around a lot for the first year. Turns out I didn’t really need to know much about comics that much though it does help. I still don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, I just ask for help and figure it out whenever a problem arises that I don’t know how to deal with. I’m convinced most of us don’t know what we’re doing most of the time.

    1. Sorry you were feeling so lost in your job, but I do admit I am relieved I’m not alone! I think one of the most amazing things I’ve learned is that no one has it figured out… we’re all going through life blind…

      How was your trip to France?

  3. Thanks for always being open and transparent in your writing, Dana. Believe it or not, it is extremely helpful and encouraging to know that we ALL have insecurities (even someone like you, who a lot of people look up to or are inspired by). it’s encouraging in that it helps me (and i’m sure others as well) take the steps to be brave and talk openly about our own insecurities, too.

    and i definitely agree with what you’ve said. unfortunately, i find myself thinking negatively a lot and doubting myself, my qualifications, and things like this. I’m still in the process of unlearning this way of thinking, though.

    1. thank you so much for your kind words and your comment! I think a lot of us go through the same things, even those of us who seem to have it all together on the outside! I’m also working on changing how i think, one day at a time… 🙂

  4. Yeah when it comes to faking it till we make it we also have to teach ourselves to say positive things about ourselves no more what ifs and thoughts like I am doing it wrong we need to replace those thoughts with I am doing a good job, I am doing the best job I know how to do. Thinking positive thoughts is part of faking it till one makes it

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.