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Fake it ‘til you make it. It’s is a very old piece of advice that can be very good or very dangerous. It is a slogan I have lived half my life following. My customers at work love me because I’m always friendly, talkative, and efficient at what I do. I actually had one customer ask me if I ever had bad days because he had never seen me not smiling. I told him that I have bad days like everyone else but I wouldn’t be a good cashier if I let it show. I’ve spent years perfecting my “happy face.” I’m preconditioned to respond to the question “How are you?” with “Fine or Well,” even if I’m having a terrible day.
I have also spent years perfecting a mask for who I am and how I feel. I have had friends call me out and say, “You are not fine. What is wrong?” I didn’t even fully realize how much of myself I had hidden behind that mask until I was ready to leave for college. I was headed somewhere no one knew me and what was expected of me so I decided to start over. By the end of high school I had learned to hide myself so well behind what I thought people wanted me to be that I couldn’t give you an honest opinion without taking a day to dig for it.
I had been faking it so long, I grew tired. My coping mechanism backfired. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In college I had to pull out the paring knife and cut away all the fake layers until I had the very basic ones left. I still believe that if I let the customers at work see me having a bad day I’m not doing my job very well. But I also believe that when you smile it is contagious and when someone smiles back your smile becomes more genuine and you will actually feel happier than before.
So, fake it ‘til you make it but beware of what you are making. Beware of who you are making yourself become because covering over yourself is exhausting and eventually no matter how many flaws you think you have you will begin to miss the person you are underneath it all. I may not like all of who I am but I am glad to have my honest inner self for company again. I’m still tearing down walls and paring off layers of mask but I’m ready to stop faking who I am.