Two or three times a year I am invited as a guest speaker for teenage girls involved in a local “personal development” program. I love to listen as the young women talk about their goals and perspectives, and I often leave feeling that I’ve learned more from them than what I came to teach.
One such lesson was “Fake It ‘Til You Make It”.
I was a bit taken aback to hear a 13 year old extolling the virtues of “faking it” – wasn’t this program supposed to teach these girls to be themselves and celebrate who they really are inside? Ah, but this wise young woman went on to explain that the process is a means of overcoming fear that holds you back from doing things you want or need to do. It means that when you need to be brave, but don’t feel brave, you must “act” as a brave person would in that situation. When you must stand up and speak, but you don’t feel confident, you must fake it and ACT confident.
Usually, we feel first and then act according to our feelings. Sometimes this works well, sometimes it gets us into trouble.
If our emotions are holding us back from what we need to do, however, we must set those feelings aside and get to the task at hand. Usually once we get going, comfort and confidence settle in.
If I were to go with my feelings right now, I would go straight home to enjoy the InStyle magazine that arrived yesterday and have myself three or four glasses of cold sauvignon blanc along with it. Am I having a diet coke and a salad at my desk instead? Damn skippy! Not because I feel like it, but because that it is what I need to be doing instead.
When it comes to this whole alcohol-free journey I’ve embarked on, I rely on “acting” like a non-drinker (and therefore not drinking) until I truly start to “feel” like a non-drinker (soon, I hope!). I find I have to think about it constantly and I am exhausted by the end of the day. My head aches from the awareness, constantly assessing each situation and protecting myself, reminding myself.
Last night we celebrated my husband’s birthday with a big family gathering in our home. It has only been 11 days since I quit drinking, but for the 4th time (already!) I found myself playing hostess and pouring drinks for others. Not only would I have loved to pour myself a glass of wine along with them, better yet I’d have loved to take the bottle up to my bedroom and drink it all alone watching Survivor and Modern Family.
Instead I had to act like a non-drinker and pour for others while having nothing myself (which, by the way, no one noticed or mentioned). Once I acted like a non-drinker, I started to feel more like one, and I enjoyed the evening.
I hope this comes more easily, in time. I hope I start to really feel like having herbal tea and diet ginger ale.
I do know this much….
When I realized I needed to quit drinking, it hit me like a two-by-four between the eyes. It caused my heart to ache and pound; the desire to become this new me, this non-drinking me. Just recalling it as I write now has caused me to tear up and catch my breath.
And here I am, a go-getter with success in life and in work because I do what needs to be done. If I think something should take place I make it happen. I always say “You can get any ball rolling with six phone calls or less.” Problems fixed, opportunities seized, challenges met, threats faced.
It shook me to know I wanted something so badly it hurt, and I wasn’t doing anything about it. Every morning I woke up and promised myself I wouldn’t drink that day, and then every evening I’d drink.
I could pinpoint the moment in each day when I pivoted and made the decision to drink. I figured all I’d have to do was overcome that one hurdle each day – somehow I thought it would mean changing that one decision a day.
As it turns out, my habit is like a persistent, bratty 3 year old that says, “Can I have candy?” (No.) “Now can I have candy?” (No.) “Noowwww can I have some candy, pleeeeease?” (No.) “I WANT CANDY!” (No, darling.) “Wahhhhh, candy! Candy! Candy! (No, no, no.)
I guess it’s no wonder my head hurts at the end of the day. Wahhhh, I want wine! I want wine now. How about now? Now can I have wine? Please? (No, no, and no.)
That’s okay – I’m making it, even if it means faking it.