Because learning always feels awkward at first, and unlearning old behaviors never feels natural.

Here is one of the worst memes floating around on the internet:

“Don’t fake it ‘till you make it.

That’s garbage advice.

Face it ‘till you make it.

Get up. Work hard. Fail. Stand back up. Face it again. Do a little better. Fail again. Get back up.”

First of all, there’s no conflict. There’s nothing stopping you from faking it til you make it, and also facing whatever it is you need to face.

But the more important reason the meme is utter shit is that learning ALWAYS involves pretending. When you start learning anything, you are faking it. So refusing to fake it means refusing to learn.

I remember when I started dancing. I felt fake. I couldn’t even do the moves correctly, let alone do them naturally to music. I still remember the very first time I tried to do a moonwalk. I almost fell over. Now it’s so natural I don’t even think about it.

I am autistic. I remember when I tried to learn how to do small talk. It was agonizing. I remember when I had to learn to really, genuinely listen to people. I knew I needed to listen better in order to succeed as a financial advisor. I felt sure people would dismiss me as being fake.

No. They simply told me, “you know, you’re a really good listener.”

I also remember when I realized that stonewalling was a terrible method of dealing with conflict. The first few times I forced myself to not use stonewalling against someone I was mad at, I felt like an impostor. For someone who values honesty and being genuine, I felt ridiculous. I thought the other person would be insulted by how inauthentic I was being.

No. They were just happy I was trying to connect instead of icing them out.

Learning a new behavioral pattern always feels fake. One of my favorite psychologists, who works with abusers, says it takes a minimum of 500 repetitions of non-abusive behavior in stressful situations for the abuser to change. 500 repetitions.

Look, the first 400 or so repetitions are going to be fake. The abuser is going to have to put on an act, at least a few hundred times, before there is even any hope of change.

Refusing to be fake, adamantly insisting on “being real”, simply means refusing to learn.