When I first started teaching I was 22 and totally in over my head. I was barely older than my students, fresh out of graduate school, and had no clue what I’d gotten myself into. There were a lot of moments – a lot of moments, guys – that I had no answer to a student’s question, no idea how to handle bad behavior, and totally lacked the confidence and “presence” that a good teacher should possess. The problem is, when you’re in a room full of teenagers who are watching your every move, you can’t fumble and bumble or they will eat you for lunch.
You have to do something.
You have to fake it.
Yes, that’s right. Fake it. Fake like you’re confident. Fake like you know how to handle every situation. Fake like you can actually do something if the students act up. Fake like you’re scary. Fake like you’ve planned every minute of every lesson. Basically, you have to be the fakiest faker on Earth for at least the first six months on the job. Stuff used to happen in my classroom, like, for example, a student might say something inappropriate, and I would think to myself – “what would a teacher do in this situation?” And then I’d do whatever “a teacher” would do, as if I was acting a part. Because I was acting a part. Because I didn’t know what else to do.
Until one day. One day, something magical happened: I wasn’t faking anymore.
One day, I actually became A Teacher. I wasn’t acting the part of a teacher. I wasn’t pretending to know what to do. I knew what to do. I had become my “part.” I literally faked it ’til I made it.
I’ve found this “fake it ’til you make it” strategy to be remarkably effective when it comes to my finances, too. When I was just beginning to tackle my debt I used the same “what would a teacher do?” type of questioning when handling a difficult money situation, except I changed it to “what would a person who’s responsible with their money do?” Then I did whatever the answer was. At first, just like when I was a new teacher, this felt very artificial. Very…fake. It was also difficult and uncomfortable. But I stuck to it. I kept challenging myself to act the part of a person who never messed up with money, who paid off her credit card balance every month, who was conversant on important financial topics.
And, again, one day something magical happened: I wasn’t faking anymore.
One day, I actually became A Financially Responsible Person. I didn’t consider carrying a balance on my credit card anymore, or not saving for retirement, or blowing off my budget. I just did financially responsible things because I’d faked it for so long that I’d finally become a person who was good with money. Once again, I’d faked it ’til I made it.
This is not to say that I’m the perfect teacher or the perfect money manager by any means. I still have a lot to learn in both roles. But I also don’t feel like a fraud on either front anymore, either. Teaching and money management come much more naturally now than they used to. But it was a lot of hard work. It took a lot of faking to get me to where I am now.
What about you? Have you ever faked your way into a new role? Have you every faked it and failed? Tell!