One of the best movie lines EVER is from the movie Working Girl. Cyn (brilliantly played by Joan Cusack) says to Tess (Melanie Griffith), "Sometimes I sing and dance around my house in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna. Never will." But regardless of Cyn's reasoning, Tess still plows straight ahead to get her life to the point where she wants to be. Tess isn't necessarily pretending to be Madonna, but she is pretending to be the person she wants to be. Some people refer to this as the "fake it until you make it" philosophy.
I believe that pretending is one of the most powerful tools we can implement and practice to reach an end goal. On the outside, some may say that pretending is shallow and deceitful, but I would argue that there are honest and real, tangible benefits to pretending. It gives an air of confidence and ownership to your dreams and goals. You CAN turn that pretend confidence into the real thing. You will learn from the pretending through the experience. Pretending is a mind hack - you have to get your dreams and goals out of your head and into reality. You can trick your mind into believing enough to jump-start your motivation and create the life that you want to lead.
Have I ever faked it? Yes. Years ago when I was younger and had some nerve. After landing a great job as a Marketing Director of a bank, I found myself downsized and out of a job due a merger. Out of desperation I applied for jobs that were out of my realm that required some graphic design skills. Now, back when I was in college (late '80s JUST SAYING) we did not have software to design publications and manipulate photos. I had degree in Art History and knew how to paint, draw and do posters BY HAND. But, I did work at a newspaper out of college and had some basic layout skills... so my "pretending to be a graphic designer" grew from that point. Since I was out of a job, I was able to find a couple of local organizations that needed help with their marketing materials, and I pretended from there. I didn't promise them anything I couldn't deliver, but I was determined to make it work. One brochure project took me weeks with a lot of trial and error. I never worked so hard in my life, but, in time, I was eventually able to walk the talk.
The revolution was subtle, but I began to realize that the more I faked it and went into the unknown; the more I learned. Then my confidence became real -- I had the skills. And I was good. Everyone loved my work. Eventually, down the road I had a job as a Senior Designer at an Advertising Agency.
Pretending takes courage. And honestly, everyone pretends to a certain extent. There is nothing wrong with that. Just as in a child's play, pretending can take you to a place where you want to be. The simple act of pretending and taking a risk into the unknown will stretch your boundaries and give you more faith in yourself that you could imagine. I believe we are meant to stretch our boundaries to find the greatness in ourselves that is there but just needs some coaxing.
The next time you find yourself at a crossroads in your life, play pretend, and see where it takes you. You won't be disappointed!