Unfortunately for me this mantra started young. As eager ballerina, age five, I thought, stuff it, I’m going to dance on my toes like a real ballerina. Well, I think it’s safe to say, in that instance, I definitely did not make it. Little did I know that ballet dancers train for years before they can dance on pointe, and even then, it’s the shoe that makes it possible.
Or in more recent times with far graver consequences, a university oral presentation hanging over my head, sure I’d drafted what I would potentially say on a scrap piece of paper and put together some slides with several grammar and spelling mistakes, but so what? I’m a talker, surely, I can just wing it? Again, those ten minutes were not my finest. I’ll keep you posted on the results.
Or maybe it was that Sunday at church, I was so tired, had my ‘don’t talk to me face’ glued on and to be honest church was the last place I felt like being. But I thought, apparently, I need to fake this. And so I smiled, did my best ‘hello to the person next to you’, and vaguely sung through some bouncy songs and then engaged in some ‘fellowship’ after the service. But to be honest, I was completely faking it. Jesus wasn’t the only thing I was thinking about that Sunday; in fact He was the last person I felt like singing my praises too. Don’t worry; I have repented in recent times.
But if I’m honest what really frustrated me was that I felt the need to fake it. I felt the need to wear a false smile, and I felt the need to make sure everyone knew I was HAPPY to be at church and there was no place I’d rather be. I felt that if people knew that I was just ‘faking it’ that Sunday then perhaps they would question my legitimacy as a Christian. A bit extreme, but you get the idea.
Unfortunately this situation has happened more than once; surely I’m not the only victim? This whole feeling, sure, could be a perception and a figment of my own cynicism, nevertheless is crippling. In a life where we feel the need to fake it, how will we make room to let our real selves make it?
Fear of being ourselves
Some would say that this ‘fake it till you make it’ culture is ‘learned behaviour’ but I’m not convinced. I’m far more convinced that it is birthed out of the fear to be fully ourselves. Maybe we are our worst critic or maybe we just think everyone is judging us? or maybe we are afraid to be rejected? I have a feeling that this behaviour of hiding our true selves runs far deeper than we would like.
In New Zealand we are riddled with ‘tall poppy syndrome’. We tear people down when they succeed because the idea of someone being better than us is crippling. Unfortunately this has infiltrated into our own belief system where we don’t even allow ourselves to succeed well, instead we hide in the background, and we don’t make the room to be fully ourselves.
Not only has our own belief system absorbed this phenomenon, so has our Church. Instead our Church is hiding behind a ‘humble’ face and struggling to celebrate who its people really are.
When I turned 18 there was a significant increase in drinking, general sleeping around and ‘mistakes’ were beginning to have far more permanent consequences. This time saw my relationship with Jesus both strength and strain. I quickly realised just because I had decided to be a Christian did not mean that all this ‘stuff’ wouldn’t occur in my own life.
I realised my commitment to Jesus does not act as a shield to the impending doom that drinking and sex apparently causes (I say apparently because let’s get some perspective please). I soon realised that there was no way I could fake this Christian thing if I wanted to hang out with my friends.
I had to get real. Christian banter and jargon was of no use or enjoyment to my friends, not that it ever was. I had to take off my holier than thou mind set and be myself. I had to realise that just because I was a Christian, I was still human.
Just because I was a Christian didn’t mean that I didn’t want to party with my friends, didn’t mean that sometimes (in fact mornings, especially on a Sunday are never ideal) waking up early for church was a tad taxing and it definitely didn’t mean I didn’t have a sex drive. I had to get real with myself and my friends otherwise my relationship with Jesus would surely fall down the drain. But why was it so difficult?
I had to realise that I needed to be myself. And to be myself, I needed to accept myself. I needed to accept that what I believed didn’t make it any easier to live it out. I had to learn to accept that I’m a fallen human being who would and frequently does make mistakes. And I had to learn to be this person with my friends and in church on a Sunday. I don’t claim this to be the one-stop shop answer but it can’t hurt right?
I would love to say I’ve learnt this already and scream “I’ve arrived” acting as a wise old mentor but the truth is I’m still learning. I still fake it. On a Sunday and in general life. But the difference is I want to make room to let my true self make it.
Chloe Pryor is a young adult living in Auckland New Zealand. Studying a Bachelor of Dance, in her spare time she teaches young children dance, ballet and jazz, whilst volunteering hours in the youth ministry of her local church. Chloe has a passion for God and serving the local church with a defined heart for women.
Chloe Pryor's previous articles may be viewed at