Apparently, at some point I became a grown-up. Perhaps you unwittingly did as well. While my brain and wardrobe adamantly refuse to evolve past 1999, my body has betrayed me. It seems that strangers are in fact blind to the awkward teen living inside my head (and closet), and instead they see a capable, functioning adult woman.
The older I get, the more I realize that we’re all just “perma-kids,” or “ever-tweens” or “infi-tweens,” if you will. (I have trademarked all of these terms, so please refrain from marketing youth-enhancing serums under them, as there will be legal repercussions. Okay, that’s a lie, but just don’t, okay?).
For most of my life, I was completely certain anyone over a certain age had it all figured out. The suit-sporting professionals I rode the bus with? Obviously confident millionaires. The effortlessly cool coffee-shop patrons? Probably partying with rock stars every night. And anyone competent enough to care for children was clearly some sort of superhuman, next-level grown-up, impervious to the silly everyday worries an infi-tween like me obsessed over.
As it turns out, though, our moms, professors, bosses, dentists—even OPRAH, you guys–are just trying to make it through the day without surrendering to their insecurities and throwing a terrible twos-style hissy fit. But thanks goodness that’s all under wraps because no one wants to see their dentist cry.
The point is, if you, like me, haven’t yet adopted “Fake it Till You Make It” as your mantra for survival, it’s time. Because all the smart, successful, sassy grown-up types you’re idolizing or envying are absolutely full of it, and that’s what makes them great.
Just pretending you know what you’re doing can have a massive impact on what you actually do. This is not an endorsement for attempting to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And this definitely doesn’t imply that insincerity is a standard to strive for. But imagining yourself as a calm, collected expert at life can really revolutionize your day-to-day.
According to my social psychology textbook (by the way, that’s a great example of faking my expertise in a subject I haven’t studied in six years in order to make a paycheck teaching it to undergrads), studies have shown well-adjusted people “have unrealistically positive views about the self,” “have exaggerated perceptions of control,” and “are prone to unrealistic optimism.” So as a writer-faking-it-as-a-psych-expert, I take this to mean that if we want to be happier people who achieve awesome things, we should start by envisioning ourselves as happier people who achieve awesome things. I know my analysis is quite scientific, but try to stay with me.
Self-deprecation is second-nature to some of us (this I am an expert in). But it’s entirely unproductive and stops being cute after the fiftieth apology-laden email or hyper-critical monologue. I should know—I had two people tell me to knock it off this week. HelloGiggles’ resident relationship aficionado and self-assured powerhouse, Erin Foster has already kicked off the Confidence Campaign 2012, and if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon (guilty), it’s time. Because really, what have you got to lose? If you practice the fakery long enough, it becomes automatic and then even life’s most epic failures will seem more manageable because you’ll know your greatness can handle them.
So go ahead and project your big, booming Oprah voice to the world. But be confident enough to let yourself throw a private hissy fit now and then, too. Your inner perma-kid™ will appreciate it.