What It Means to Fake It 'Till You Make It

 Fake it 'till you make it

“Fake it ‘till you make it.”

Whether it was from their uncle at a barbecue, or one of the hundreds of movies and shows that reference it, every performer has absolutely heard this line before. This familiar phrase is almost always said sarcastically — a fun poke at the unlikely odds of making it in show business. But is it only a little joke? Or is there some merit to it?

If people have been saying it for this long, there has to be some truth to it, right? The short answer is, yes, there is.

What It Doesn’t Mean

It’s easy to take this message the wrong way.

Many people assume that it means they have to pretend like they’ve already earned the respect and attention they’re seeking. This manifests itself in a variety of ways, but it most often comes in the form of what we could call “disingenuous behavior”. Attitudes of superiority, a shallow projection of self, simply being a jerk, the list goes on. 

Generally speaking, people have a pretty good sense of what’s honest and what’s not. Think about a time you’ve seen a “poser”. It was instant — you could tell their whole presentation to the world was a facade in a matter of seconds. In the context of a performer, a “poser performance” only comes off as a performance without passion. This is why that disingenuous behavior often portrayed by newer artists is so detrimental to their careers.

A great example to think about is Post Malone. People love him not only for his talent, but for the fact that he’s just himself. He likes to be goofy, he likes to have fun, he likes to be human. When an audience can find a reflection of themselves in an artist, they’re much more likely to connect to the artist’s music.

This brings us to our next point, what does it mean to fake it ‘till you make it?

What It Does Mean

Ironically, it means being yourself (with some extra steps). The “faking it” part only applies to two things: confidence and networking. 

I know what you’re thinking, Isn’t faking confidence just that disingenuous behavior from before?

No. Faking confidence is not lifting your nose at others, believing you’re better than the next person. Faking confidence is performing with the confidence of someone who’s performed at Madison Square Garden. Writing songs like you’re up for a Grammy. Living with a passion as if you’ve already made it. That is what faking confidence is.

Faking networking, just like faking confidence, is not about putting yourself above others in any way. It means to fearlessly meet people with a sense of pride in your work. It means not being afraid to send a stranger a cold email or DM. It means putting yourself out there for the world to see, not for attention, but to spread your passion.

So to answer, yes, faking it ‘till you make it does work, but only when done right.