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Fake it ’till you make it

To me, college is one of the greatest performances us as students will ever participate in. We fake like it’s all good when you get a last-minute meeting scheduled in an already busy week, we fake like it’s okay when group members barely do their parts in projects and we fake like our lives are together when really inside we are sometimes falling apart. 

Right now in college, this is the hardest our lives have been so far. We aren’t older adults looking back at how “easy” college life was compared to the grand scheme of things. We are here, right now. And our lives are relatively difficult. There are times that we build fake confidence to make others believe we are worth a shot and more capable than we appear at the moment within trying circumstances, and I personally don’t see anything wrong with it.


In a TED Talk featuring Amy Cuddy, she talks about “faking it until you become it” after opening up about a car accident that occurred when she was in college that caused her IQ to drop by two standard deviations. She recalled what her advisor had told her upon getting into Princeton for grad school years after the accident when Cuddy didn’t feel like she belonged there, which was, “You are going to fake it … You’re just going to do it … even if you’re terrified, paralyzed and having an out-of-body experience until you have this moment when you say ‘Oh my gosh, I’m doing it, I have become this.”

There will come a time when you will have to go to your close group of friends, family, or form of support that you confide in and let everything go. And it is okay to let your guard down with that group, but when you’re on your stage whether that be your work place or the college environment, you have to keep it together because in the bigger, broader world nobody cares. It sounds harsh but you have to put on your game face because they don’t care how bad of a day you’ve had, they care about what you’re bringing to the table.

Sometimes when all you have is the person you are now and the dream or vision of the future you, and the constant pressure to be perfect, you have to fake it if even for just a moment that you are that confident, you are that smart and you are that perfect. And somewhere within all the faking and pretending, sometimes the facade becomes real and now you do have the confidence because you faked it until it manifested within you.

This sounds absolutely crazy I am sure, and you’re probably thinking I’ve finally flown off the handle, but there is an actual science behind this concept. A blog post from Psychology Today about faking it ’till  you make it discusses the placebo effect, which essentially is an illusion of an outcome due to an expectation of that outcome. You convince yourself that something is happening. The blog post also addresses the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which can be as simple as telling yourself, “I want this to be, therefore it is.” These are both reasons why faking it ’till you make it can work. Nothing may really be changing, but just the fact that you’ve convinced yourself that something is changing and the mere act of acting like it has already changed can sometimes help your situation.

The idea of faking it ’till you make it can be compared to that typical, cheesy high school movie – The one where the cool, popular football player gets dared by his football buddies to date the nerdy girl that everyone laughs at. So he starts giving her attention and in faking and pretending that he likes her, he actually falls in love with her because it turns out that she is everything he’s ever wanted. That’s how life is sometimes, you have to pretend to be everything you’ve ever wanted in order to actually blossom into everything that you have the true potential to be.

Now when I say fake it ’till you make it, I am not saying that you get to walk around pretending to be a different person and lying your way through everything. But what I am saying is that when you are going through life challenges and hard times, you have to push through as best you can by putting that smile on your face and getting things done even when that’s not necessarily the mindset you are in.

So I say fake it ’till you make when times are tough, and I hope you fake it so well that you are able to grow into the future you that you always dream about. I think sometimes even that little opportunity to put a smile on when you feel like breaking down is enough to get you through, you just have to be willing to take advantage of it. But in faking it ’till you make it, I hope you never lose sight of who you really are and the raw potential of who you could be. So if you have to fake like you know what’s going on in class when a bigger, maybe more pressing issue is taking over your brain, then I say do it because maybe, just maybe, the act of pretending to know it all will help you get the confidence to know it all. Faking only lasts for so long, so as Amy Cuddy said, don’t fake it until you become a fraud and get into a position where you know you don’t belong, fake it until you have triumphed over your challenge, and when you make it, tell them Chynna told you so.

Collegian Columnist Chynna Fayne can be reached at, or on Twitter @ChynnaFayne.

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