Monday, May 2, 2016

The Art of Faking It

I have a confession to make, but I don't really want to say it out loud. Come here...I'll tell you if you promise not to tell anyone my secret. Closer...closer. Okay, here it is: I'm faking it.  What is it, you may ask? All of it: life, career, parenting, running. I like to pretend like I've got it all together, but I am faking it.

In reality I know that this is hyperbole, but there are times when it feels like that's true. I remember starting law school among this largely serious and intense group of humans. I am rarely serious and only intense when it comes to working out or being in love. Despite actually being a relatively smart person I have never thought of myself as very intellectual. I felt lacking in law school, and I showed it by not appearing to care that much. In fairness I had three abdominal surgeries my first year. I followed my heart to Texas and visited my third year at Baylor where I didn't know anyone. My grades, whether good or bad, transferred back to WVU as pass/fail, so I wasn't exactly the hardest worker. (Ironically I had my best grades of law school). My third year I had a business organizations class where the professor posted his teaching notes online. I went to that class twice: the first and last classes. I still have a recurring nightmare where I go to that class on the day of the final and am lost. I faked it into getting a B.

With my parents at my law school graduation in 2003. Ha ha! Fooled them all!
I remember starting my job as the Mayor's executive assistant in Norfolk at the age of 25. I had no clue what I was doing. I answered a classified ad. The Mayor loved introducing me as a "young lawyer from West Virginia", and it made it sound like I had a clue what I was doing. I will never forget being in my very first meeting with the council's economic development committee. They were discussing a local developer's project. The committee members kept saying the word "Kotarides" which is the name of the developer's firm. At the time I could not figure out what they were talking about. I wrote the word over and over again with different spellings to immediately Google it after the meeting. I remember wondering what I'd gotten myself into and how long it would take them to figure out I was clueless.

Meeting Emmitt Smith at work in April 2005. He was totally onto me.
I moved to Michigan largely on a whim, and on my second day of work I stood on the House floor looking around at the beautiful legislative chamber wondering what on earth I was doing. I handled my first bill and wondered how long it would take for someone to call me out. I was the policy advisor, the "expert" on the issue, and they'd find me out for sure. I transitioned to lobbying and then running a foundation - both new endeavors - without anyone figuring out that I don't entirely know what I'm doing. 

With brilliant women in the MI Capitol ten years after moving here (March 2016)
I'm a "runner" even though I'm barely running these days. I squeaked out a 2:04 half marathon a few weeks ago, but it was a fluke. I pushed through it not because I'm a runner but because I'm stubborn. (Caveat: I truly think being a runner just means doing it, but it shows you how crazy I am that I sometimes think I'm not one.)

Finishing the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon a few weeks ago
I have a fear that someone will look at my life one day and says, "She's totally faking it." My bigger fear is that they're right. I think being the type of person who is constantly pushing boundaries and living outside my comfort zone means there's always an element of figuring out what the heck you're doing. In instances where I feel uncomfortable or out of my element I fake it until I make it. It happens more often than I usually admit, but I keep making it. That's probably the part I should focus on.

On stage at a work event a few months ago. I admit: I felt like a rockstar this day.
I don't have it all figured out. I stumble as much as I reach the top. My confidence takes hits, and I sometimes feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. Then on many (actually most) other days I feel like a total rockstar who can (and does) conquer the world. Life is too short to not face challenges head on. I'm not here to be average; I'm here to be awesome. 

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