Some readers who have little ones may recognize the title of this post from a children's song by They Might Be Giants. I couldn't help myself. As I was sitting down, thinking, "What is F for, what is F for?" the lyric just popped into my head.
I think there are two types of fake-believe. There's the fun kind, and then there is the kind that is possibly detrimental. At 7:00 am, when I turn on my side and see Max's eyes open wide, level with mine as he stands beside my bed and says, "Hey Mom, I want you to be a ninja," that's the fun kind (it's more fun later in the day). It's fun when you buy a lottery ticket, and for the next day or so you get to imagine what you would do with all that money. Perhaps you act out a few scenes in your mind of the trip you will take, or how you will decorate your new house. Or maybe, like me, even though you love your life, you sometimes indulge in daydreams; imagine living in different places and knowing some different people; doing different things.
There's also a potentially dangerous type of fake-believe, and I think more people experience it than we realize. It happens when we are in situations that make us unhappy, whether it be work or school or relationships. It's when we pretend to be someone other than ourselves, pretend to care (or not care) about things that don't (or do) matter to us. I've been there. My last job was for a huge, world-wide company. While I just had a small position in the business development team, the people I worked for were wonderful and worked on my behalf to give me opportunities to climb up. I acted determined and motivated, thinking, "clearly, I should want to rise; really start my career." I tried to really put myself out there, even though I'm very much an introvert. I aggressively pursued business classes; my boss unofficially took me on as a mentee; I tried to network and take on as much work as they would give me. My husband wouldn't have recognized me at the office. By the time I got home from work, I was exhausted. I had spent all this energy being someone I was not, caring about things that weren't important to me, that I had almost none of myself left over for my family. It took me almost a year to realize that I simply wasn't interested in a career like that. No matter how good it looked (or would make me look), it just wasn't me.
Sometimes you do have to "fake-it till you make-it." Occasionally it's necessary to seem more confident than you really are, more certain. But be careful when you really start to believe you are the alter-persona you created. I'm so happy I understand this now. Now, I get to be a ninja.