It came to me after spotting one of those cutesy postcards on Facebook that read, ‘we’re all faking it’. A epiphany of influential interactions flooded my head, followed by a vision of the most powerful F word to ever grace humankind. A word that has made kings of slaves and built a thousand empires.
The word is FAKE.
As an international music journalist, I interviewed top artists of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. From Aerosmith to Skynyrd, I picked the brains of the best. Later, as a documentation specialist in the tech world, I was surrounded by a bevy of brilliant physicists. From rock stars to ion rockers, I viewed the success of these men and women in perpetual awe. I mingled among them in a state of insecure impostering. After all, I was born, given away, re-placed and forced to figure out where I fit in.
During my very first national music interview with the late, great Joey Ramone, my voice cracked, and I giggled a lot. My hands shook as I settled in to an hour long conversation with the punk icon. Sizzling behind every word was my imposter voice. Who are you kidding? He’ll think you’re a groupie. He didn’t, and the interview was brilliant, fun and launched my career. Before I knew it, record labels were calling on me every time a big act came through Boston. Still, I felt like a flounder flipping about in a dwindling puddle of made-up reality. Evaporation was imminent.
With my physicist colleagues, it was worse. I have a college education, but the terminology tossed about by these men and women was as foreign to me as a ride on the space shuttle. In fact, I went home after the first day on the job and cried. I was a scientific novice, and felt sure they would toss me out. I purchased a periodic table, learned atomic abbreviations and prayed, a lot!
As a kid, the feeling was the same. I was adopted. I knew nothing about my birth family. I pretended that I was like everyone else. But inside I felt made up. Despite the fact that my music and science careers came after I found my birth family. (Read how I found them in this post), I still assigned the source of my fake-dom to being adopted.
What I failed to examine as I trudged through the firestorm of adoptee insecurity were the stories of the rock stars I interviewed, and the scientists I worked with. If I could have tuned out my tenacious imposter’s voice for longer than a nano-second, I would have heard the universal message, “I’m faking it too.”
During an interview with singer Gary Cherone of the band Extreme, he told me about the first time he sang for his mother and grandmother. He was so shy that he sang from inside the kitchen closet with the door closed. In his heart, Gary was insecure about his talent.
A physicist co-worker from overseas once shared with me his story of studying under the streetlight at the center of his town (because there was no other electricity) and despite being at the top of his field, wondered out loud if a man from such a humble beginning deserved success.
These men were not adopted, and yet they were faking or questioning their success. It never occurred to me that someone who always knew their bloodline could feel like a fake. Everyone appeared so solid, and confident. They were big, important people who wore success like a golden cloak of superiority.
Yet underneath, they questioned their family connections (blood or chosen), life choices, and career successes. Dear readers, in no way am I discounting the extra anxiety and loss of being adopted. If you have read my other blog entries, you already know my heartfelt belief that finding your family is essential for growth and peace. My New Year message to you is one of inclusion.
Knowing that everyone feels like a great big fake at sometime in their life goes a long way to settling in to become who you are meant to be. Feeling like a fake is the result of fear. Worrying about being found out for the authentic, learning, seeking and not so perfect human that you are is universal. While I don’t recommend you sling the ‘F’ word around this year in an effort to even your human playing field. I do hope you will start 2015 on better footing by listening for the helpful (and humorous) ways your friends, colleagues, and fellow planet-dwellers admit that they too – are faking it.
Blessing for a year of revelations and improved self-worth,