Fake It ‘Til You Make It

How many times have you heard someone tell you to “fake it ‘til you make it”? And while I don’t want anyone to blame me for getting caught out when faking it, at certain times, it’s the right path to take. 

Honestly? Sometimes, it’s the only path to take. 

In school, they teach you a great many things. How to tie your shoelaces. Your ABCs. How to multiply. The proper use of an Oxford comma. And in a marketing degree, it’s basically the same. How to run an ads campaign. What SEO is. How to identify your target market. But when it comes to stepping out into the real world of working adults? Well, let’s just say that oftentimes, the millennial fear of “adulting” is quite legitimate. Because what’s learned on paper doesn’t fully transfer over to what has to be done in actuality.

And when it came to writing my first blog? Well, let’s just say that while I had thought I was so well prepared for it… I wasn’t.

Writing I can do and, if I do say so myself, do quite well. I’ve always loved words, whether it was having my parents read me bedtime stories since my earliest memories, being happy to be sent to my room after fighting with my brother so that I could go and read my latest book, or participating in spelling bees. That’s why I skipped into our weekly team meeting, just a mere few weeks after starting my job, and thought to myself “you can write anything”. Oh, how wrong was I.  And oh, but how quickly that smile was wiped off my face. Because writing? That I can do. But technical writing about deeply technical subjects? Well, my friends, as established in the last blog, we know that that isn’t me. No way, no how. At least, not then. 

Monolith versus Serverless debugging. That’s where this story all started. Now, at the point that I had been tasked with this assignment (I mean, I was hired for it, after all) I had had enough onboarding and training to know, quite generally…ish, what those two words meant. I knew how to fit them properly into a sentence…more or less. But to create a whole blog, on my own, that deep-dived into the nitty-gritty of each, the pains of them, and how to fix that? My mind just gave me a big fat ERROR message. 

Yet, rather than admitting defeat, when I was asked “so can you run with that and give us a working draft by the end of the week?” my answer wasn’t “RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!!” but rather a very cheery “of course!” with a smile that hid my true terror behind it. My eye might have started twitching. Maybe.

And so my adventure into the land of ‘faking it ‘til you make it because failure isn’t an option’ began. This is when I truly learned what every developer’s (not so) secret is: Google.

I had three million tabs open.  I found myself wading through the deep dark recesses of every page on monolith and serverless architectures, the differences between debugging methods – yes, there IS a difference between logging, classic debugging, etc-  and more. I sat there, tears in my eyes, the most epic of headaches brewing in the back of my head, and stared blankly at my laptop screen praying with every cell in my body for some form of a miracle. Which, obviously, didn’t come. No magically finished blog wafted down to me from the heavens. No voice whispered the content into my ear. No developer apparated into my apartment and said “hey, want me to write that for you?”. So I slogged through it, minute by minute, page by page, outline through outline, until I made it. This blog. While it may seem like nothing, to me, it was everything. I had made it.

What I learned was this: while it may be a cliche to say “fake it ‘til you make it”, and perhaps a bit of a basic catchphrase, it’s true. On the journey of faking it, you begin to do it. You keep pushing on, aiming for where you want to be, and through all of that work to pretend to be there, you get there.  Truly, I don’t know if “faking it” is the right terminology. Perhaps I’d rephrase it to something more along the lines of “having enough confidence to know that even if you can’t do it now, you’ll make sure you figure out”. There’s nothing fake about a learning curve. And there’s nothing fake about projecting confidence and knowing your abilities – even if they aren’t exactly in your skillset just yet. But you’ll get there. You’ll make it.

And yes, not knowing what you’re doing sucks. We’ve all been there. Well, at least I like to believe that it’s not just me who’s been there. However, what I’ve also learned is that while you may feel like you’re in over your head, just remember one thing: you always have Google.

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