This is a good adage to know, to be and to learn. Basically, there will come a point in your life (as there does for everyone I know, have known and have taught) where you will feel you are not equipped for the challenge ahead of you. This could be for a new job, a new course of study or even a new school. No matter what the challenge in your path of your next step, it is important to fake it until you make it.
You would not be in the position you find yourself in if you were not somewhat qualified and ready. I mean, maybe you are a sociopath and have bluffed your way into a position you cannot handle but if that was the case, the feelings of being an impostor would not bother you at all. Being an impostor or impostor syndrome is real and it can make us doubt ourselves, our abilities and even those who put us in the positions we find ourselves in (admissions counselor, hiring manager, etc).
Fear can be good in that is can motivate us to stretch and work harder but we do not want to be a mess. So the best thing to do is to fake it until you make it. Volunteer and ask questions, try your best and keep learning. And wait for some lucky breaks, too. Because you will find some – maybe you were unprepared for a morning meeting and it has been changed. Take advantage of that time to prepare, study and watch and learn your colleagues and coworkers.
If you do not have that time, do the best you can anyway. Always give your best shot, even if you know you will fail. Have the confidence to try anyway; that can sometimes be the magic that keeps you moving towards becoming who you are meant to be.
I remember when I started my MBA program in Italy. I was only 21; not even yet 22. Most of the other students were older and more worldly – because they were from around the world, too. Here I was, a little Staten Island girl who had up until this point lived at home, with a curfew of 12am, mind you. I was over whelmed and did not feel that I could cut it. One of our first (group) presentations came around, and we had prepared words but nothing else. And every other group was using PowerPoint and we did not have it – I was ready to fail the class (but at least I was not alone, I guess) when it was our turn, the computers broke unexpectedly and no I did not hit the computer or anything – and we got a reprieve of another day and you can know I stayed up all night to prepare that document. The next night, we got to present and we did very well; although some people surmised / guessed that we did not have anything ready based on our looks of horror the night before (up until the computer stopped working; then we were happier than normal)…
Many times, in my career and especially as a new adjunct, I faked it until I made it. I learned that you have to think about the next few points:
Have you ever had to fake it until you made it? Did it work out for you? What advice would you give your younger self now? Happy Hunting!
Lisa Vento Nielsen