When I consider the whole concept of mental disorders, I consider the universe inside one’s head and the universe outside one’s head. Where these two universes intersect—Venn-diagram-style—is a mixed-up place that is partially a universe of disorder and partially a universe of order. A place that is mostly made up of the false, the misleading, the untruth. If we extrapolate this intersection and consider it its own universe, we have a universe of faking it that all of us live within—regardless of the mental issues inside our heads.
In this universe of pure deception, ironically we can all come together. This is where those with a mental disorder and those without—or at least those without anything severe enough to be discussed as a known disorder—have most everything in common. Faking it. Isn’t that funny that it is this universe of misdirection that we all have something in common?
This indeed is to say we’re all faking it. I know I am. I can speak enough for everyone I’ve met who is also under the thumb of mental illness to say they’re faking it. As well I’m observant enough of those without what we’d at least consider relatively a mental disorder to know, well, they’re faking it too.
Let me begin by speaking only of myself, that is most fair and less suspect than me speaking for others. (I know as I veered off into the area of others, your head must have cocked a bit thinking “who is this person to speak for anyone other than himself?”) We’ll get to others regardless.
There are two types of “faking it” for me: active and passive. Active faking it is taking action to cover up where my mental disorder makes me wholly unfit for a task at hand, but a task I am wholly responsible for. This dichotomy is a tough one to get over, as the term “wholly” supposes a Pretty Big Deal. It usually is. I am usually faking it.
It is important to stop here and consider the idea of a “lie.” This is not relevant to the subject matter here. If I am using lies as a tool, we’d have to go deep into defining what is and is not a “lie.” I don’t wish to do that. As “faking it” is more a method of survival, and has a lot more ingredients than just lies.
For example, I am very good at what I do for my work. I am good at the thinking part of it, I can architect a beautiful system of work for those who work under and around me. That is most of my job. But applying myself to work is nearly impossible. Much of the energy needed to do so, I do not have. It has been eaten up by my mental disorder over the years to the point where I actually don’t know the granular details of what goes on with my work.
In order to bestow my system of work upon everyone so things get done well, I need to fake the knowledge of the inner workings of said work. If I didn’t have a mental disorder holding me back in the expenditure of energy, I’d have had the energy to keep up with all of these things along with my innate knowledge—which is all I do use—of how things should work. I thus am an invaluable person at the higher level stuff and a slop at the lower-level stuff. Everyone assumes I’m good at all of it. They must, or I would have no credibility.
My faking it also manifests itself in time spent. This is the passive “faking it.” I am at work and available often eighteen hours a day. Sometimes I am not needed during all of these hours, but I am there. During most of this time—especially when my anxiety, OCD, and other issues are flaring up—my attention is purely an exercise of muscling through to get to the end of the day, hoping for a better tomorrow. I consider this a passive operation because it mostly involves words. Not even words out of my mouth—just typing through virtual channels. It is the base level of getting things done, and I am a master of it. I have not the ability to contribute to the actual work being done, but I can steer it. That is all I can do, I have no energy to do otherwise.
Here, I find myself often steering things away from myself and onto others. That is not wrong, it is technically my job. Though I suppose I am painting a picture of being a lot more hands-on than I really am. Is there a morality breached here? Considering in these times I am in a mode of pure survival, I don’t believe that question to be relevant.
All of this, to this point, is the murky universe of “faking it” by someone with a mental disorder, and because of this mental disorder. However, I extrapolated this universe as its own entity which I believe everyone lives within, mental issues irrelevant.
Let’s just put it simply: everyone fakes it, and more often than not.
We all exist in a world of deception, especially as we become more interconnected and our social interactions expand into a branded public presentation.
We go back to the working world for a second. Do you know what I spend a lot of time doing for my business? Looking at résumés1. What are résumés? They are one’s best efforts at faking it. You know this and I know this. I am not talking about lying—again that is not an area we’re going into. I am talking about the most truthful résumés—they’re an exercise in building a fake persona on paper. Has anyone ever listed their failures on a résumé2? From the piles of thousands of résumés I’ve seen, that happens pretty much zero times.
Now let us move outside the working world and into the entire social universe of pretty much everyone. With social media being the point in which everyone—mental disorders or not—touches everyone, we are now living in a world where every social action we take is akin to presenting a résumé. What is a Facebook page other than a résumé on who you are socially? We quite literally write résumés to find love.
Again, what are résumés other than our best exercises in faking it? Presenting the best, muscling through the worst.
This brings me to a thought about this entire “faking it” universe. I presented you with examples of how I actively and passively fake things to get by. I then look at this. This site. Specifically, maybe, this article—though I’d consider most other articles as well.
I’m actually presenting things in a manner where I’m not at all faking it! Maybe it is the anonymity I insist on, but this site is—I assure you—the epitome of honesty. I have no reason to fake it. I’m making no money from this3. I am just spilling everything from my mind onto digital paper for anyone to read. So mental disorders holding me back and all, I have found a place where I don’t fake it at all. It is quite refreshing.
Unfortunately, I cannot live my life through this site entirely. Thus I go back to the world of faking it.
Along with you.
1 I need to thank whatever gods are out there who got me an HR person recently to weed through the most terrible of résumés. That’s not really relevant here, but I just need to apply some thanks for this situation. [BACK]
2 You know who has listed failures on their résumé? Me. It is a tactic I’ve used. But really, this is not a résumé writing class here. [BACK]
3 Not yet. [BACK]