Faking it

Dedicated to all vets and personnel in this wonderful profession. If what you are doing it faking it, keep doing it. You are doing a beautiful job!

Coco was on the consultation table. She had been coughing for the past few days and her vet was examining her. She placed the stethoscope on Coco’s chest and palpated her throat. After a thorough examination, her vet continued to chat to her guardian and mentioned something about ‘kennel cough’. With no injections, Coco left the vet happy and bouncy on her feet.

Coco’s vet finished her consultation and almost immediately rang her boss. She was fairly certain she had gotten the right diagnosis and given the right treatment but she had to make sure. She had only graduated the summer before and have not felt quite ready to be consulting yet. Her boss assured her that what she did was great and she had made the right choices. She felt better but still a niggling feeling bugged her.

Have you ever felt unqualified or unready for your work? Or even for your life? Perhaps it was in your relationships, whether with your partner, your friends or your children? Maybe you have seen or had it in your head how someone qualified should perform and have certain results. You feel that you are not ready and not able to perform to produce the results you expect. Or maybe you feel that it is not you. You feel unprepared and fake. You feel like an imposter.

Feeling like an imposter can be quite debilitating. Self-doubt creeps in. The sense of self-worth is challenged. You feel like you are another person playing a role, a role that you feel is not you. If you are a vet consulting and taking care of a pet and his guardian, you may not feel comfortable being paid and simply have another person listening to you and taking your advice. If you are in a relationship, you may feel inadequate that you are not the person the other is looking for. If you are a parent, you may not have a clue on how to raise your children or feel ‘worthy’ that you are the right parent for them. This feeling can be overwhelming and at times, crippling.

The reality is that feeling like an imposter is and should be normal. No one is born to know everything about life, not at all. You learn along the way. To be good in your chosen craft, you need to learn about it and practise it often. It applies the same to relationships, you need to learn more about your partner and practise being the partner you want to be often. It is similar to being a parent. The keyword is ‘practise’. The only way to practise is to do it, to keep putting yourself in that situation and ‘gain experience’. No one expects you to be the perfect person, partner or parent. Only you are putting that perfectionism on yourself. Why be so hard? Life can be tough enough.

If you are not getting the results you want, learn from your experience and ask for help. Understand that everyone is in this together. There would be a time when the so-called ‘more qualified’ felt the same way as you. You are not alone. Know that success comes from good judgement. Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement. Why judge yourself when no one else is? As the Bible said, ‘Let the one without sin cast the first stone’. No one is qualified to cast stones like this. Be kind to yourself. The reality is that you probably know more than you think you do. Very simply, the fact you are doing or being it makes you more qualified to another who is not. We have a terrible habit of severely underestimating our abilities and grossly overestimating our inabilities.

No one is given a manual on life. There is no manual on how to live when you are 18, 80 or anywhere in between. The reality is that everyone is faking it. Everyone is making things up as they go. They are making up on how to do things, how to feel, what to say, how to react and it is all different for all. It is different as we are all unique. We each have our own ‘best’  way of doing anything and everything. What works for one may not work for the other. None of the methods matters apart from the one that works for you.

It is important to know and understand more about yourself. You may feel like an imposter if you are not living your life, exhibiting your inner values or simply, being yourself. In fact, the more you learn about yourself, you will realise two things. 1. You do not know everything and there is more to learn. Because it is what you want to do (whether it is being a vet, a partner or a parent), you feel the fear but you want to do it anyway. So you do. 2. You are simply not your thoughts nor your fears. You have so much more to give. So give it. The more you understand yourself, the more real you will feel.

A useful tip to combat ‘Imposter Syndrome’ would be to JUST DO IT (thank you, Nike). Actions drive out thoughts. If you get it wrong, learn from it and get back in the game. Learn from others who have been there. Competence breeds confidence. You only get competent by making mistakes and learning from them. A mistake is only a mistake if it is made twice. It is not so much about ‘fake it til you make it’ but more about ‘fake it till you become it’.

It is actually healthy to feel like an imposter. Imagine the reverse. Imagine someone who feels they are the best person for the job (whether it is in a profession, with a partner or being a parent) and they know every single aspect of the job and they are not able to miss anything. This sort of person is not growing. He may be competent at what he does but he can never improve for he thinks he knows it all already. Know that feeling like an imposter keeps you on your toes, it keeps you humble as you know there is more to learn. As you learn more, your craft improves and others benefit from it.

Here are three useful points to consider.

  1. Accept that the ‘Imposter’ Syndrome is normal and healthy in life. It is a great thing, not something to be ashamed about. Remember that everyone else is also faking it!
  2. Step into your fear and simply keep practising what you want to be good at, whether it is in your craft or your relationships including being a parent. Learn and seek help from others who have succeeded along the way. Competence breeds confidence.
  3. Know thyself. You will feel more fake for not living your inner values than what the outside world perceives.

Coco’s vet is slowly learning that she is improving daily and there is more to her than she thinks. Are there roles you play in your life that you feel out of depth? How do you feel about it?

‘Not knowing something doesn’t make you a fraud, it makes you a student.’ – Marie Forleo

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