I have always been in love with authenticity, it is what drives me to certain people. People who are the most genuine honest versions of themselves. The rawness that comes with it is so refreshing, it sums up the human experience for me. I think I also live with the belief that people are inherently decent and not malicious. Sounds naive, yes I am very much aware of that, but I like to hold on to the fact that we are all struggling and are trying to do our best.
That is precisely why the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ confuses me. It goes against my primary belief in authenticity… and the rant goes on. But yeah, that doesn't mean I haven't tried it myself.
I live most of my days pretending that I'm fine. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I am constantly living in denial, but I do have the tendency to casually trivialize a lot of things that really affect me. What is so wrong if I use trickery to get on with my day and gaslight myself into everything being peachy? The (only) problem with it is that it becomes habitual. Infact, I started doing it so often that I'm now confused about what is even authentic anymore, especially with how I feel.
Very recently, I was rather sick. And I thought to myself (as per usual) that it's just a little cold and I just need to be healthier and it will be fine. Except - plot twist - it wasn't. By day 3, I was worse than before, reaching the point where I did not know how I got there. I then started wondering whether I could be exaggerating how sick I was actually feeling. Are you like me where such extremes come naturally?
If yes, then as you know, it's not really fun. A friend suggested that I go see a doctor to speed up the process of getting better. And right enough, like clockwork, I was like ‘What… meds.. I'm fine, it's just a little cold and cough and body ache and fever’ and… by the fourth list of ‘how fine I was feeling’, I had caught myself trivializing something that was very real. I was sick no matter how much I pretended I was fine. I was not getting better, unless I decided to stop pretending that everything was dandy.
Sure, mind over matter is a thing.
But my mind was pretending and my body was frankly done with it. Since I was sick, it gave me a lot of time to think - was I faking it or was I just in denial? I realized that for me denial is a distraction from reality. All the signs (and more) were there and I chose to ignore each and every one of them because I did not want to face the reality.
I find myself doing this a lot in many situations. Yes, I can be a hypocrite, but I acknowledge it. I’ve started being more real about what I am faking - from stories about needs not being met to health issues. Honestly, I do believe that sometimes we need to reassure ourselves that we will be fine, and that is possible without denying what is really happening.
The thing is, it took me being really unwell (and thinking I'm living out my last days) as well as being surrounded by healthy people who consistently met their needs; to nudge me to make this realization. It has made me more aware of how I feel, which is less fun than denying everything, but it's also made me show up for myself a lot more than I used to.