We hear the phrase “fake it 'til you make it” all the time. But what is that really encouraging? What if faking it doesn’t ever lead to “making it?” Is it doing more harm than good? I ask this as someone who struggles with mental health, like so many others. This saying is in no way unique to people living with mental health struggles. But it is starting to feel like I’m constantly trying to “fake it” for 8 hours of the workday, 2+ hours with friends, etc. It's not that my friends make me fake it with them. But there can be pressure to fake it so that you’re not the buzzkill. Is anyone really out there "making it"?
We have good days and we have bad days. I used to constantly fake it. The emotions, the struggles, the invasive thoughts all went into their little boxes because if they were living rent-free in my brain I wasn’t really fun to be around. I was the person to always say I’m fine or it’s going well. People don’t actually want to know how you are when they ask “how is everyone doing today”. They want one of the generic “it’s good” types of responses. But what if it’s not good? The response of “I’m hanging in there” or “not great” makes people uncomfortable. It isn’t seen as professional, it brings the room down, people may write you off and not include you after that. What are we supposed to do when the boxes get full?
The energy needed to fake it is exhausting. For me, it truly does more harm than good. I am emotionally drained having to hype myself up for 8 hours of the day some days. And it then sucks out the little energy I have so I become a zombie at the end of the day. The next day I muster up what little is left to go for round two of faking it. And the cycle repeats. Sure I try my absolute best to rest and fill my cup back up. But if faking it is draining the cup faster than I can fill it, then what?
People preach that emotions aren’t bad, but if you show emotion, then it’s seen as unprofessional because that isn’t the place for it. You get written off. I’m not saying to use everyone in your life as a therapist. But if you seem “meh” and not the energetic person you put so much effort into being, they ask what’s wrong. But they don’t want to really know.
The easy answer is probably up the dosage on the meds. But I hear this struggle from so many that don’t have a chemical imbalance requiring meds or people experiencing situational depression. On a good day, I am bubbly and energetic. It’s not fake, but on a bad day, I have to fake it to get to that high level of my normal personality. I don’t think anything less of the people I’m around. Maybe they don’t realize they encourage the "fake it 'til you make it" mentality. It is honestly society’s fault as a whole. I’m sure I’m even guilty of this pressure put on someone else! What is the alternative?
Have you seen the trend on TikTok of the videos showing people outwardly happy but behind the scenes breaking? Their message is that if they ever lose this fight to know that they tried their best to win. It sucks! Trying to be emotionally stable is an Olympic sport and I am not a top athlete. Could you imagine physically exerting yourself for 8-10 hours straight every day? That is the same as mentally exerting oneself. We might not be physically pushing our bodies to the limit, but we are mentally pushing our bodies to the limit. Your brain is an organ and not a muscle, fine, but runners have to push their lungs to the limits and so do we with our brain. But we don’t get to stop "running".
It isn’t my intention to make people feel bad or guilty by sharing this. But maybe you don’t know. Maybe others don’t feel exactly like I do. But maybe they feel something similar. Maybe you take one tiny little thing away from this that helps in one tiny little way with someone in your life struggling from the pressure to fake it. Maybe one person feels less alone because they know someone else is going through it too. If you made it this far, I want to thank you. If you’re someone also struggling, I want you to know you’re not alone and I hope tomorrow is better than today!
Be patient with yourself, nothing blooms all year.
Love you like glitter!