Home » Life Lessons Learned » Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

After my dad passed away, I had a really hard time having conversations with friends and family about “stupid things”. The Dancing with the Stars gossip. The babble about cute boys that you never actually get the nerve to talk to. The daydreams about meeting celebrity crushes that almost never come true (I say almost because I’ve still got hope that I will one day meet mine. Harry Styles, I hope you’re reading this.)

These silly conversations help relationships last. Because if the only things we ever talked about were serious, deep, and existential subjects, our relationships would not only be seriously depressing, but also very short. Because no one wants to hang out with a person that can’t enjoy the fluff of life.

And I had become that person. Sure, I listened to friends and family talk about the “stupid things” but while they talked, I barely listened. I nodded and smiled, but inside my head thought about how ridiculous it was that they cared so much about how their little sister borrowed their shirt without asking when my dad was still very dead. I had become so wrapped up in my own life that I could barely take an interest in anyone else’s. And it had created distance between me and the friends and family I cared very much about.

When I started seeing my bereavement counselor, Mary, (written about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/skiing-with-my-bereavement-counselor/) I told her about this problem. How I would have dinner with a friend and while they went on about the things in their life, my mind would wander and think about more serious subjects. Most of all, my dad.

She gave me an assignment. Instead of just nodding and smiling, I had to start these “stupid conversations” and really practice listening to the other person speak and not let my mind wander into the depths of Abbey-La-La-Land.

And because I wanted to get better, I did what she said.

But it was so much harder than I thought. I struggled to care about the “stupid” things my friends and family cared so much about. It all seemed so trivial compared to the loss that I was dealing with in my life. After a week, I told Mary how impossible I found her assignment.

That’s when she gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

“Fake it till you make it.”

I couldn’t believe a licensed social worker was telling me to pretend to care and pretend to take an interest in my friends and family in the hopes that one day, I really would. But I figured she must have known something about what she was telling me so I gave it a shot.

For a while, I had to consciously pretend in those conversations. But as time went on, it became easier to engage with others about silly things. I no longer had to keep track of whose turn it was to speak and I no longer pretended to care. I really did. Her advice had proven true.

And it certainly doesn’t just apply to these “stupid conversations.” I carry this advice with me everywhere I go.

For example, the other day I saw one of my aunt’s who I rarely ever see. She’s from my dad’s side of the family, married to one of his brothers. However, she lives over a thousand miles away in Florida. Which particularly stinks since I love spending time with her.

After seeing me, she texted, and among other things, wrote,

“It is so nice to see how comfortable you are as yourself.”

I was completely surprised.

Firstly, because someone had acknowledged all the hard work I’ve done these last few years on becoming a healthier, happier, and more confident person in a very direct and straightforward way. It wasn’t just a passing comment. By writing the message to me, there was a sort of permanence to it.

And secondly, because even though I’ve made tremendous progress, I still struggle to feel comfortable in my own skin sometimes. But every day I look in the mirror, smile wide and pretend I’ve got all the confidence in the world. Because I know that eventually, one day that confidence will stick.

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15 thoughts on “Fake It ‘Til You Make It

  1. I struggled with the same thing after I lost my dad three years ago. I found myself judging people and completely unable to empathize with them. That feeling still creeps up on me every now and then but I realize now that suffering is all relative and what I’ve been through doesn’t make me any more significant than anyone else.

  2. Sorry for your loss. 😦

    In 2010, I lost four family members in a period of six months. Devastated doesn’t even cover what I’d felt. For a while, all I could feel is numb. Whenever anyone spoke to me, like you, I had tuned out. This lasted for a long time until I faked it till I made it. It did help. The pain subsided and would spring up every once in a while until one day when I noticed the pain had gone. Oh, it was there, but I’d learned to deal with it. Nowadays, I’ll have a few moments when the pain comes back, but I eventually push it away for another day. It’s tough, I know. But it does get better. 🙂

    • I am so sorry for your losses. I can’t imagine how you felt. The pain never goes away, but we learn to cope with it, like you said. I still have moments where I am very sad but that’s all they are. Moments. They pass and I can continue on with my day. When I first lost my dad I never imagined I’d be able to live a happy life with this giant void in it. But I’ve learned to fill it with the things and people I love. Of course I still miss him every day, but I remind myself that I did not die when he did. I have a whole life ahead of me. And just because he’s not physically here doesn’t mean our relationship is over. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Pingback: The story of a REAL FAKE | POST for NOTHING (:

  4. totally love your post & the choice of words..
    What an inspiring post for all of us 🙂 :):)

    Thanks for sharing dear & congratulations for not just ‘not-giving up’ when it was tough but for coming this far ..I celebrate this milestone with you from far far away & send you joy 🙂 Keep going..

    Love
    Shraddha

  5. Pingback: Fake It Until You Make It… Really??? | It's Not All Bad...

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