Fake It 'Til You Make It

As recent graduates, we're all familiar with the modern Catch-22; many "entry level" opportunities require 2 to 3 years of experience right from the start. In this environment, it becomes awfully tempting to fall into the lot already questioning our worth. Our guest this week, Kara Baldwin, reminds us that confidence is crucial, not only for carving out success, but for weathering these moments of self-doubt.     


          I didn’t know it at the time, but this small phrase that was said during a class in graduate school, “fake it 'til you make it,” would go on to shape my entire strategy for surviving adulthood. To give you some quick background (hopefully without putting you to sleep), I graduated from college knowing I wanted to pursue a career in Genetic Counseling (super random, I know). So I worked my butt off as an undergrad, did what you were “supposed” to do, spent a horrendous amount of money applying and interviewing at graduate programs across the country, and (by some miracle) was accepted and began my journey towards a career at age 21. 

          During the first few weeks of school, I quickly learned I was the youngest one in the program … and, to make it even more intimidating, there were students who already had advanced degrees in subjects like neuroscience (queue rolling eyes emoji)! I felt utterly incompetent (this wasn't the first time and unfortunately it wasn't the last). And then one day, a professor was lecturing about the importance of being confident while interacting with patients (it's a valid point; most people probably don't like receiving important medical results from a Nervous Nelly). But he could sense all of our hesitation and that's when he said one of the most honest and valuable pieces of advice I've ever heard, "just fake it 'til you make it." I didn't really quite understand at that time what he meant by this, but I learned over my two years of grad school that if you tell yourself enough times that "you've got this" chances are you'll eventually actually do a pretty damn good job (don't worry, you'll still manage to eff things up once in a while; but you wouldn't be human if you didn't)! And then one day, after you've worked so hard at convincing yourself of your adequacy, you'll go into the next session, tackle the next obstacle, or form your next relationship without as much self-doubt. Hence, “fake it 'til you make it.”

          As grad school came to a close (hallelujah), I was offered a job position in Los Angeles, CA. This great opportunity just happened to be a casual 3,000 miles away from everything and almost everyone I knew. This offer came at a unique time in my life as I already had a great boyfriend, family, friends, a place to live, an opportunity to save money, and some other decent job opportunities right there in front of me. But a gut feeling I had knew I really wanted this particular genetic counseling position (Who wouldn’t want to work at a spermbank?! That’s a story for another time...), and it also came along with an exceptional prospect for a life change. I decided to accept the position and embark on a journey to the west coast. It was this decision that more or less forced me to become a “grown-up.” It’s been just over two years since I started this journey into independent adulthood and I’ve had some ups and downs:

  • Slept on the floor for a month while my belongings were lost in the cross-country move (first time I had ever felt real rage)
  • Moved into 4 different apartments in Los Angeles
  • Lived alone
  • Lived with a roommate whose dog gave me fleas (like actually gave ME fleas)
  • Dealt with some significant health issues (kidney stones are as bad as you think they’d be)
  • Went in for surgery alone and woke up in the recovery room alone
  • Fell in love and then had my heart broken
  • Went on an unbearable amount of less than ideal dates
  • Passed my board certification exam and got my very first raise
  • Took a road trip and traveled with family and friends
  • Helped build families around the world
  • And even found love again (with a boy and a bulldog)

          Through all of these experiences I’ve realized that being an adult is just a series of situations where you have to “fake it 'til you make it” in order to thrive. Life is fluid and all situations, whether good or bad, are transient. So, just convince yourself that you’ve got what it takes to carry on and you just might discover something wonderful.  I know I have...


This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original thoughts & expressions of the author.