People say to “be yourself”, but some say “act as if”, or “fake it till you make it”, which one should be done?

Answer by Franklin Veaux:

Okay, so here's the thing: What other people call "faking it until you make it," I call "practice."

You are not just one thing. You are who you are, yes; you have the values, beliefs, attitudes, and ideas that you have. But there are many ways to be yourself. You can be the best version of yourself, which means striving for the qualities you want to have and admire, and letting go of the things about you that you don't like. Or you can be the worst version of yourself, emphasizing the things about you that are mean and petty and not reaching for the qualities that are best about you.

Which is the real you? Which one is "being yourself"?

Both are.

So what does it mean to "fake it til you make it"? It means that you become what you practice. You become a skilled piano player by practicing piano. You become a skilled mountain biker by practicing mountain biking. You become compassionate by practicing compassion. You become brave by practicing courage.

All these things–playing an instrument, riding a bike, being compassionate–feel awkward and uncomfortable the first time you do them. They become comfortable and natural when you practice. That's why people talk about "faking" things–the first time you try to play the piano or be compassionate, it will feel unnatural and clumsy to you. It won't feel like you're doing something that comes naturally to who you are.

As you practice, these things become natural. You become the best version of yourself by practicing the qualities you like and admire, even when they are difficult and awkward. And over time, it becomes easier and easier to practice those qualities, until they become so natural they feel like part of who you are.

So don't think in therms of "faking it til you make it," think of it in terms of consciously deciding what qualities you want to have, and then practicing those qualities. It works quite well. 🙂

People say to "be yourself", but some say "act as if", or "fake it till you make it", which one should be done?