The Amazing Imposter Inside Each of Us
That well-worn adage "Fake it 'til you make it" is very true.
The Amazing Imposter Inside Each of Us
That well-worn adage "Fake it 'til you make it" is very true
When I was in my twenties, I was quite full of myself. Still footloose and fancy-free, I could be whatever I chose to be.
During this time, I was working as a printer for a local newspaper. I was lucky enough to find a "Press Pass" on the floor one day, so I stuck it in my pocket, unsure if it held any value.
That same day, one of our local writers stopped in the shop, to see how long his article needed to be so he didn't overwrite the space.
His name was George and his grandson played baseball as my son, so George and I had a bond, of sorts.
As it happened, George mentioned to me that he had lost his press pass and had to get a new one. I pulled out the pass I had found and asked if it might have been his. He told me it probably was, but to hang onto it, because it could get me into certain events and venues I would normally have to pay an arm and a leg to get in and have a lousy seat.
I wasn't sure where or when to use it, so George offered a variety of options: baseball games, basketball games, football events, museums, and concerts (of all places). It seems this press pass had all kinds of places and events I could attend, for absolutely no cost.
Apparently, I had struck the motherlode of cards to possess. So, I thanked George after making sure I wouldn't get fired for using it. He assured me that wouldn't happen because he had given it to me.
That was all I needed to hear!
The next thing I know, I was able to get into one of my favorite venues, Churchill Downs. As I was going thru the turnstile, I just showed them the press pass and smiled and they waved me through.
Wow, what magic! Now I could attend the Kentucky Derby and not be restricted to one particular area of seating. It offered me Carte blanche access to anywhere I wanted to go on the track.
Besides using it for visits to Churchill Downs, it also got me into many of the local concerts and sporting events. One time, I saw the University of Louisville band walking into the basketball arena and I tagged along beside them. Once at the gate, I just flashed my press pass and was once again waved through the gate.
As it turned out, that pass held all kinds of possibilities. The longer I held onto it, the more I realized it could get me in at events even if they were outside my local area. I used it to get into football games in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, San Diego, and New Orleans.
Once, I loaned my pass to my brother-in-law. He wanted to see the University of Louisville play basketball in the Final Four, being held at the Super Dome in New Orleans. I instructed him to just flash the pass and smile and, according to him, it worked like a charm.
To confirm that he had gotten in, he somehow managed to get down on the basketball floor at halftime. He saw one of the announcers interviewing one of the coaches and he just nonchalantly walked behind the coach being interviewed, getting his face on national television.
Back here at home, we were hosting a party for family and friends to watch the game. Someone at the party noticed my brother-in-law's face and hollered out "He did it! Jim got into the game and got on national TV!" The whole party got into a funny uproar over his audacity. To us, you'd have thought a rock star had been born.
After that endeavor, I made sure to get the press pass back from Jim as soon as I could. To his credit, Jim turned it over, but he didn't want to give up the alluring features of the pass, so he somehow designed and created his own.
As he was handing mine back to me, he flipped open a credit card holder and flashed his new press pass at me. He had designed an original-looking press pass out of newspaper clippings that would hold up under some less-than-stellar scrutiny.
He would use his pass at many, many events over the ensuing years. He had a way to beat the system and he was going to take advantage of it. Jim lived in the south, so he could go to games in Atlanta, New Orleans, and even attended Alabama football games. He truly was "the man, the myth, and the legend" in our books.
Jim became bolder as time went on. He realized that, once he was inside the venue, he could also get a couple of his friends into the event. Before he showed his press pass, he would meet up with his friends and pick out a meeting place where he could hand the pass to someone on the outside, and they would immediately use it to get through the gate. They would meet up with Jim and he would hand it to his next friend for them to use.
If there was no access to the outside fences, that didn't deter Jim. He would simply go up to strangers who were inside and in their seats and ask to borrow their ticket stubs.
Most venues allow you to leave and reenter the ballgame as long as you have your ticket stub. Jim would hop outside, find his buddies, give them a ticket stub, and then they'd all walk in together as if they didn't have a care in the world.
After everyone was in, Jim was always very careful to return the stubs to their rightful owners. Meanwhile, his buddies would hit the concession stand and buy something to drink, then they would all meander around the various parts of the facility so they could watch whatever game was happening.
Imposters reside in all of us. Some days it is how we act around co-workers we don't particularly like. Other days, we get all dolled up to try to impress so-and-so. We all like people to think we've got it all together when that might be the farthest thing from the truth at the moment.
There was one time when I was having my car serviced at a Midas Muffler shop. They had told me it would take about an hour to replace my muffler, so I decided to sit it out in their waiting room. It was one of the reasons I had chosen to use them in the first place.
An hour came and passed, then turned into an hour-and-a-half, then an hour-and-45-minutes. That was all the patience I had that day, so I decided to use the press pass to get a little faster service.
I asked to speak to the manager, then pulled out a pocket notebook and my pencil. I keep those with me to write notes to myself so I don't forget anything. I showed the manager my pass, and started asking tough questions:
- How long does it normally take to replace a muffler if it is in stock?
- Why would it take nearly two hours to finish a one-hour job?
- Why do you advertise one-hour service if you can't provide it?
I was diligently writing down his answers as fast as he would throw them out. His head started spinning and he asked me to "hold on while I go check on your muffler."
When he came back five minutes later, my car had suddenly been rushed into the bay and was going to be worked on and he told me he would have me out of there in 10 minutes.
He asked me when my article would appear in the newspaper. I told him I wasn't sure because the editors normally use "service stories" as fillers in the back of the newspaper. It just depends on when they have a space to fill.
I paid my bill and left, confident I had pulled off my news reporter act with enough believability to keep the manager guessing for quite some time.
There is a bit of an actor inside everyone. We can be feeling something much different that we display in public. We play along with certain niceties so we don't attract any ill will. But, we're really not okay with whatever is going down.
We can be sullen and dejected one minute, and then one of our best friends shows up and we change our attitude. We hide our true selves because we don't want to bring down anyone. Besides, we can return to our sullenness later.
Most of us have seen a friend or associate who always has to have the best of the best. Second-rate isn't a part of their vocabulary. The next thing you know, we hear they are going through bankruptcy because they couldn't really afford all that good stuff in the first place.
Is being an imposter okay, or is it wrong?
Great question, but that's beyond my pay grade. I don't have an answer to that. I would take an educated guess that it might depend on what you are trying to achieve.
Are you willingly being fake to deceive or hurt someone? Or, are you "faking it 'til you make it" in an attempt to better yourself? Through my personal experiences, you can learn a great deal about yourself by being someone you really aren't.
Similarly, on the dating scene, we try to winnow out the imposters from the earnest ones. However, I have seen both men and women who have married fake people. What attracts them to the imposter is perhaps the "bad boy" or "bad girl" role they tend to play.
Many of those among us can identify with "Imposter Syndrome." We feel like we aren't good enough, or pretty enough, or rich enough. In other words, we feel like phonies or frauds. We have risen to the level we've attained by simple blind luck. So, in essence, we "fake it 'til we make it."
Guess what? It works… to a certain extent. It's also called "OJT," on-the-job training, and "figuring things out on the fly." In fact, there is an article that gives us the validity of the statement. On the website CognitionToday.com, there is an article, titled The scientific truth behind 'Fake it till you make it', that explains the logic behind the truth in greater detail.
I took a long, hard look at myself to see what parts of myself, if any, were imposters. Folks, I am here to tell you that we are all imposters at times. How we deal with that news is left for each of us to decide.
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This article was originally published elsewhere.