In our weekly mental health and wellbeing column, a few words on the day where we have to take a leap of sorts to make it.

Hello and a very warm welcome to the spot on the site where we chat about mental health, wellbeing, and things that may or may not be affecting some of us. It’s a weekly series, and we cover all sorts of things: not everything is going to be of help, we accept that. However, hopefully over the course of these articles, there’s something that may be of use to you.

This time around, a little chunter about putting on a front.

I often recall a very good and brilliant friend of mine who talked about how they got through the troughs in life. That they sometimes had to, in their words, ‘fake it til you make it’. No matter how they felt inside, and how difficult something was, they had to project they knew what they were doing in the hope it got them over the line.

Like many strategies, it’s an imperfect one, but there were moments in their life and mine where it worked.

After all, the idea that we have to fake it sometimes assumes that everyone else isn’t doing the same to some degree. That old idea that we’re surrounded by people who are flat out experts at everything, and we’re the ones who don’t really fit in. Who are letting the side down. It’s taken me a lot of life to appreciate that pretty much everyone has those sorts of insecurities sometimes, me very much included. And I’ve come to reconcile that even the people who are absolutely brilliant at what they do sometimes have to fake it a little. Just they can put on a veneer of confidence and a sense that they know what they’re doing.

I got accused in one job a long, long, long time ago of looking bulletproof: that no matter what was going wrong, it wasn’t going to knock me off my stride. I was really taken aback by this because, inevitably, it couldn’t have been further from the truth. It overlooked the moments where I had to duck out to hold my head in my hands, or to try and hold in the upset and worries I was going through.

And while I learned there was short term value in putting on some kind of front, I’ve come to reconcile that it only gets you so far in the end. That whilst it’s perfectly possible to get through work that way, it’s not really much of a path to happiness. To finding self-satisfaction and genuine joy. I find it a useful approach for bridging small psychological gaps at best.
Sometimes, that’s what’s needed. But in the end, in my life, I needed to make a change. I needed to stop fighting to cope, and instead tried to find something that was challenging, but enjoyable.

I still brass things out, and I still take the odd leap of faith. I still sometimes fake it if I have to. But I’m also a bit more open about what I don’t know and what I can’t do with people around me. It doesn’t stop me having a go, but it does feel it’s on fairer footing, to me as much as them.

As always, thanks so much for reading these words. Do drop any thoughts or anything you want to say in the comments below. And this column will return next Wednesday. Best to you all.

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