“All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.”
C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
I find this truth to work in two ways, both good and bad.
If you pretend to be someone successful when you are just starting out and work hard to turn that dream into a reality, eventually you will become that person you are striving to become. I find that if you strive to be someone admirable, people will forgive you for the gap and help you become what you want to be.
But, you can also pretend to be someone you are not so as to earn someone else’s admiration. With this motive, people tend to be repelled by you and your behavior. They do not help you get to where you want to go. When you do become what you pretended to be, people don’t congratulate you, they resent you for it.
Strive to be admirable. Do not strive to earn admiration.
There’s an old episode of The West Wing where Leo McGarry tells the soon-to-be-President Josiah Bartlett in a flash back to “act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given unto thee.” It helped relieve the doubt he was experiencing trying to be himself. The first time I heard it, I went searching for it in Scripture. It sounds like something in the Bible, but its not there. All the same, I find that it is true in my experience again and again.
The other day my daughter asked why I was wearing “work clothes” on a non-work day. My wife reminded the kids of an adage her dad used to say:
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
What are you pretending to be?