Fake it ‘till you make it. It’s cheesy, but it works. Personally, I’ve spent the last 5 years training myself to appear more confident than I truly am. Is that misleading? Is it lying? I don’t think so. I spent my entire life worrying about my appearance, my grades and what people thought of me. These obsessions were crippling, so when I moved to Montreal, I decided to try something new: fake it ‘till you make it. So I did. I thought of all the outgoing, confident people I had admired my entire life and I forced myself to imitate them. The shocking thing is, it worked. The more I convinced myself I was confident and outgoing, the more I acted like it and the more I believed it. Acting like the person I wanted to be helped me become the person I wanted to be, because I proved to myself that it was possible. There’s no secret superpower or magic cure to getting over your insecurities or to not be shy anymore. It took me 22 years to be able to shed my shyness and ironically, the only effective method I found was forcing myself to pretend I wasn’t shy anymore. It might be simplistic, and it is far from a perfect solution, but it worked for me.
There was a time when I was terrified to talk in class. I would hype myself up for the entire class to get myself to speak even once. My anxiety would get so bad I felt like I was paralyzed, ending up completely consumed in my own thoughts and unable to focus on what was going on in the class. When I first came to McGill in the pre-pandemic days, I got over this fear by simply forcing myself to do it. At every chance I answered a question or voiced my thoughts, and gradually it became more bearable. The more I worked on it, the more I became the outgoing person that I had always wanted to be. The more I put myself out there and talked to people, the easier it became. Learning how to handle those same challenges in Zoom University has been a whole new experience. At first I felt like I was in high school again, terrified to show my face or raise my hand or try to talk. But I applied the same theory once again, and once again I was impressed by the power of simply forcing yourself to do exactly the thing you’re terrified of doing. There’s something to be said about just doing the thing you don’t think you can do. It’s worth noting that this approach will not work for everyone. Sometimes it’s impossible to just make yourself become what you want to be. But for me, it was worth a shot, and it paid off.