13 December 2015

Fake It Till You Make It

Over the last few years, I've had the great blessing of loving and being loved by some very humble and holy introverts. As far as I can remember, not one of them has ever embraced the idea of faking it until you make it. Read Ross's insightful take here.

Like most things in life, I think the reason I tend to disagree with my introverts on the topic is because they've thought about it much more deeply than I have. As far as extroverts go, I'd like to think of myself as less surfacy and more self aware than most (my pride speaking). It's probably not actually true. Anyways, the interior life requires quite a degree of self awareness and introspection, and I'm working on it.

I was in discipleship with two women during my junior year of college. In the fall semester, both of them were experiencing desolation, and my advice to both of them (which frustrated them immensely) was to fake it until you make it. I was coming off of a spiritually high summer and was excited to spend an hour in the chapel with Jesus every day. I knew they weren't, and I knew I wouldn't always be so thrilled about it either.

For weeks, neither of them were praying because they wanted to want to pray before they went to pray. Wanting to pray is not a prerequisite for praying, I don't care if you're an introvert or an extrovert. They hated the idea of fake it till you make it because of the word fake. I was convinced that if they would just go to the chapel and be with Jesus, He would work in their hearts. Had I been more mature, I could have probably communicated my thoughts without using that word.

When I think of fake it until you make it, I'm mostly thinking about obligations and actions. I NEED to be praying and keeping the lines of communication with God open, regardless of how I feel. I NEED to go to work and make money, regardless of how I feel. I NEED to love the people around me, regardless of how I feel. It's about using my faculties and acting on my will and my intellect over my emotions.

In the Ignatian Exercises, one of the rules is that you don't make or break plans in desolation. You make plans in consolation and you stick to them in desolation. You fake it until you make it back to consolation, if that's what it takes.

In Ross's post, he talks more about feelings. Self confidence, for example, isn't even a virtue. Is there a point to faking it until you make it if what you're faking won't advance you in the spiritual life? Hardly. He and I agree there. I love that he's asking questions I hadn't considered: do the ends justify the means? When it comes to engaging the will and intellect over the emotions, I think both the means and the ends are virtue. What do you think?

I wish there was a phrase that meant the same thing without the word fake in it. Perhaps "just keep swimming" from Dory from Finding Nemo. But it doesn't hold quite the weight of self denial that I think is captured in fake it till you make it.

St. Ignatius, pray for us!

1 comment:

  1. Brittany, this was really helpful! I think that my issue with it is along the lines of your other introvert friends' issue: I hate the word "fake." I almost wonder if we're thinking of the same thing, but using oppose language. In your description of "fake it till you make it", I was thinking you were describing the opposite of what I think of when I think "fake". What you describe, I would call "integrity" or "perseverance": doing what is right or what you said you would do, even when you no longer feel like it.