Learning as a Lifestyle…Just Fake it Until You Make It?

People who know me can’t believe that I am really a shy person. How could I be shy when I seem so at ease while I talk on television and radio, give speeches to community groups, and introduce myself in crowds? This is how I can do that.

As I said in this column before, we moved a lot when I was a kid. Moving was really hard for me, especially when we moved while I was in high school. I had visions of not going to the prom, and being left out of everything that makes high school special. Not only was I going to miss prom, but we moved in the middle of the year, and everybody already had their groups formed. On top of that, our stuff was not going to get there in time for Christmas.

Since my life was “ruined,” I figured I would go spend money at the base shopping center. I was really surprised to run into a boy by the name of Alan Boyd there. Alan and I met in middle school in Clarksville, Tennessee. As we sat in the cafeteria catching up, I told him about my ruined life, and he told me that since I was in a new place, I could be anything I wanted to be. All I had to do was ‘fake it until I make it.’ I was really glad to have a friend in our new place, but he was leaving the next day.

Talking with Alan made me feel better, but I wasn’t sure I could do it. I knew mom always said things such as, “The new place will be as good as you let it be,” or, “You will have as much fun as you want to.” And those sayings always seemed to work out. I decided I would try it.

The first day of school at Mannheim American High School in Germany, I said hello to everyone I saw. I asked questions in class. I went home with a stomach ache. Every morning I had to remind myself that I was going to ‘fake it until I made myself one of the popular kids.’ Every morning I would tell myself I could do it.

By spring, I knew quite a few kids in school. I tried out for cheerleader and made it. I tried out for drama club and “starred” in a play called “Zingu.” I ran for Junior class Secretary and was elected. I had “made it.”

This may sound easy, but it was not. Every day I had to remind myself that I could do these things. Every day I had to force myself to perform the actions that would help me succeed. There were days I wanted to hide in the corner, and there were days I did not think it was working.

Some say you can change a habit in 30 days. I think it takes longer than that. There are days I still want to fall back on my old habits. From 13 Things to Avoid When Changing Habits, ZenHabits, http://zenhabits.net/13-things-to-avoid-when-changing-habits/, Jim Ryun, former athlete and politician, is quoted as saying “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Aristotle is quoted as saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” So, if you are going to make learning into a lifestyle, you might just have to “fake it” for awhile in the process, but if your heart is true, you will indeed “make it,” and the effort will surely be worth it.
By: Wanda Campbell