Throughout the last decade, the mantra “fake it until you make it” has become as omnipresent in business as briefcases and blazers. This seems especially evident within the professional woman’s world, where apparently, ambition and assertive action are somehow still perceived as the exception, not the norm.
Superior confidence and business acumen isn’t something every woman is inherently born with, and that’s just fine. We learn. We grow. Who we are at our core, idiosyncrasies and all, is the very thing that makes us us. It’s what allows us to relate to our fellow humanoids in an authentic and genuine way.
Somewhere along the line, we’ve accepted this idea that it’s better to pretend to be something we’re not, than to embrace who we actually are. In the name of being perceived as competent, we keep quiet instead of asking questions. In the name of being seen as agreeable, we endure rude and dismissive behavior, rather than calling people out when they mistreat us. Though we’ll toss out pants that don’t fit, we stay stuck in careers that no longer suit us for the sake of being responsible.
That’s nice and all, but why not just go ahead and be you? The business world, just like everywhere else, is improved through the presence of diversity and authenticity. Acknowledging our vulnerabilities, personal preferences and character quirks is the first step to letting our guard down and identifying the life we want to live.
Pretending you’re cool with wearing pantyhose in a cubicle all day when you’re really not, is like lying to yourself habitually. Acting brave when you’re actually terrified is noble, and can pull you through tough times — but what’s so wrong with admitting you’re scared? Being who you are, both in and outside of the workplace, will lead you toward relationships, experiences and careers with both substance and meaning.
Like so many of us, I spent the majority of my 20’s and early 30’s “trying on” different versions of myself. Personality tweaks, shifting career paths, style phases and ongoing upgrades to my circle of friends. Always me, yet always evolving. This is part of our personal path. However, as I’ve rounded the corner into my mid-30’s, the life I want has begun to come into focus like never before. The effect this has had on my career has been profound.
As it turns out, being unapologetic myself has taken me farther, faster than I could have ever imagined. Once you quit trying to jam that square peg of yours into a round hole, it’s just a matter of time before the universe rolls out the red carpet for you.
Sure, the business world needs women who are cool wearing pantyhose and comfortable in cubicles. But it also needs women who prefer slip-on, checkerboard Vans, laugh loudly and chase their outlandish dreams. Maybe it’s time we reconsidered “faking it”, and started to refocus our efforts on authenticity.
Michelle Mulak, former FLORIDA TODAY Fitness & Water Reporter, owns Good Vibrations Creative & Consulting — specializing in small business social media marketing, public relations and storytelling on the Space Coast. You can reach her at MichelleMulak23@gmail.com.
Columnist series is sponsored by weVENTURE at the Florida Institute of Technology College of Business. WeVENTURE has locations in Melbourne and Rockledge. The Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information, visit weventure.org or call 321-674-7007.