Few terms get the heat up as quickly as ‘fake’ these days. Everybody hates the fakes.
Except here is the truth: We are all fakes.
I’m not talking about those notorious cases, where fake bankers cheated hundreds of trusting savers out of their hard-earned money or fake doctors abused their patients. Their crimes are not being fakes. Their crimes are extortion and abuse. (And, just food for thought, if that fake doctor, instead of abusing you, had treated your medical condition successfully, what difference would it make that they are not ‘ real’? And is the abuse through a ‘real’ doctor less painful?)
What people get upset about is faking to be a leader, faking to be a public speaker, faking to be an expert in marketing, faking success. The parameters here are a lot more diluted and difficult to define. When exactly are you successful?
To show that this is not about rational definitions, let’s take the one field where nobody ever talks about fakes. Nobody dares to call an artist a fake. Why is that? Because we have no common definition of what is art. The person may not have produced a single piece of art, but nobody questions that — by simply being in the process of creating — they ARE an artist already. A writer doesn’t have to have her book published before she can call herself a writer. A painter doesn’t have to sell a single paining in order to call himself an artist. I may not consider their creations artistic or creative or talented, but I cannot deny the artist their title, can I?
What is fake about then?
It is all about expectations. MY expectations determine whether you are successful or not. MY expectations determine whether you can call yourself a manager. MY expectations define your degree of professionalism as marketing expert. And if you fail to meet my expectations, I will shoot you down in flames for being a fake.
And why the anger?
Why do fakes make us so angry? Because most of us have felt fake for a good deal of our lives. Because most of us have created masks and played roles in order to please. Our parents, our teachers, our peers. We hate to see other fakes, because they remind us of our own distortion. How many of us are completely open and honest when we’re at home with our parents?
How many of us fake it during the holidays? Oh, we’re doing just fine. No worries. We’re faking the intellectual for the father, who prefers the rational mind. We’re faking the happy son for the mother, whose heart we don’t want to break. We’re faking the strong wife, because we’re too scared to be vulnerable. We’re faking the wise parent, so that our children don’t discover that we’re as lost as we think they are.
How many of us are not fake at work? We play a role wherever we are. We pretend to be fine, when we’re not. We pretend that this additional task is ‘no problem’, even though we already feel overwhelmed. We smile and say “oh no, I appreciate it,” when asked if we’re upset about that feedback, even though we feel crushed inside and miserable for at least a week.
Except nobody calls this fake. It’s called functioning in our world.
We’ve been such experts at faking that we hardly remember who we are. Some of us don’t remember it at all. We lost connection with ourselves. We cannot trust ourselves anymore. And we are furious when we believe we ‘caught’ someone else faking it. We’re bitter, because we feel betrayed.
Listen. Who was the first one to betray you? It’s time to forgive and to remember.
Remember who you are. Remember who you want to be.
Be what you want to be. Give it your all and your best. Don’t lie. Accept where you are. Then you can be anything. You want to be an artist? BE an artist. Right here, right now. You want to be a leader? BE the leader. Right here, right now. You want to be a healer? BE a healer. Right here, right now.
The more you allow yourself to be what and who you really want to be, the easier it is for you to allow other people to dream their lives and live their dreams. You won’t be triggered by a fake. You will connect with the person underneath it. True connection knows no fakes. And you can connect truly to others once you have connected with yourself.