Sunday, May 2, 2010

faking it

Which of these bathing beauties do you think is faking it? (Answer: All of them)

When I was thirteen, I imagined myself as a sophisticated, put-together, well-spoken sixteen-year-old. When I was sixteen, not quite as sophisticated or put-together as I'd hoped, I envisioned the twenty-year-old me: stylishly brazen, with a bright red pocketbook and nails and toes painted to match. At twenty, my hair still frizzed on top, toothpaste still crusted in the corner of my mouth, and I almost never had an umbrella when I needed one. But, I just knew at twenty-three, I would finally have stopped leaving the house five minutes late, with mismatched socks and unhemmed pants that I tripped on and ripped as a consequence. 
I'm twenty-three. And still... 
On the days I manage to wash my hair, its ends are sticking out like a confused compass pointer by noon. My toenails seem to grow at the pace of a super-weed, and I am continuously losing all three sets of my nail-clippers. I rarely have a pen on me when someone asks for one, and if I do, it's stenciled with the name of a company like "Enemas R Us".  I'm messy, unorganized, distracted, fumbling; and the days wherein through some miracle, I actually have an air of somebody who has got it together, there can only be one explanation. I'm faking it.
And I know I’m not the only one doing this. A recent conversation between myself and the other interns at the company which shall not be named – a company that prides itself on being the most stylish accessory for the quintessential urban-girl-about-town - affirmed my long-held suspicions. I found that we were all faking something: our technical know-how, our fashion sensibilities, our ability to juggle multiple jobs or internships, our mastery of local trends and hot spots. None of us cared too much for writing pieces on cupcakes, or thigh-tightening techniques; but we were all willing to, even if it meant faking something in the process. The collective sigh that was released upon admitting this was indicative that women are far too good at keeping this a secret. Because the most refreshing part was that we could all actually admit it to each other, and that alone, somehow made the pretending part less shameful. In fact, it erased the shame entirely. 
I know the image that we’re working to project via the company and our little articles is fantasy and entirely unrealistic. No woman can possibly have it all together as flawlessly and effortlessly as magazines, tv shows, and movies depict. And if it looks as though she does, it only mean she has mastered the art of faking it. And if she's a master, I'd do well to get to talking to her. 
I often write, on this blog and in real life, about being authentic in your work, being honest in your communications with yourself and others. But when it comes to this, I've got no problem putting on an act. Why is that? Well for one, we all do it in one way or another. If not at work, then in a relationship, or elsewhere. We are always working to make ourselves seem slightly better; more intelligent, more productive, more exciting that we actually are. 
It’s fun to imagine ourselves as having it all together, even if we never will. Pretending for a night that we are as well-dressed, perfectly-heeled, and immaculately-coiffed as a Glamour-girl is something like the grown-up version of dress-up. So while I could sit around lamenting the fact that at age twenty-three, I still can't get my hair to fall just right - and it probably never will; I am perfectly content to get by with faking it. 


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