Fake it ‘til you make it, but know the difference and celebrate when you HAVE made it!

Imagine a runner in the longest marathon of her life, one that seems never ending at times, mile after mile, curve after curve, hill after hill… where IS that damn finish line anyway? She puts her head down, paces herself, focuses on her breath, her rhythm, and wills herself on.

After a while she becomes so focused on these actions, this mental state of endurance and perseverance, she’s SO in the zone and unaware of her surroundings – that she doesn’t even realize it when she crosses the finish line. For those fighting to achieve success and recognition in their career, especially over a long period of time, it can feel similar.

My professional writer story is also one of a marathon not a sprint (as I would guess most others are). It’s one of a 20-something administrative temp who took screenwriting breaks while others took smoking, lunch, and coffee breaks. It’s one of countless evenings spent sending unique marketing pitches to movie agents, managers, and producers only to get quite non-unique rejection letters in return; enough to paper my small L.A. apartment. My marathon went on for well over a decade.

As I honed my writing craft, I also mastered the crafts of charisma, communication, marketing and public relations; in other words “faking it until I made it.” I learned to pitch myself while constantly improving upon the quality of the products I was pitching.

Somewhere in the midst of marketing and mastery, I crossed the finish line between “faking it” and “making it.” I became the professional writer I’d aspired to become for so long. But like that marathon runner, I was so cocooned in the daily fight to endure and survive, that I didn’t notice.

Here are some of the signs that I missed along the way, that I’d “made it.” This is for all my fellow marathon runners out there. This is me jumping into the middle of the road, giving you high fives, holding up a mirror to your achievements, and acknowledging you for what you have accomplished!

Here’s how to know that you have made it:

  • People tell you: With their words, endorsements, and in the case of clients – with their precious dollars.
  • Repeat work: People generally won’t hire a “fake” over and over, especially for years at a time.
  • Referrals: If people keep sending their contacts and friends to you, it’s because they know you’ll do a good job for them. (They’re not just being friendly or polite!)
  • Doing It: You’re doing for a living, every single day, what you only dreamed about doing during your “faking it” years. And when you get fully present and push away the fearful chatter, you realize you LOVE every minute of it!

You’ve made it. You’re the real deal. Take a moment to realize this and celebrate how far you’ve come from where you started.

And of course there’s never an actual finish line in the marathon of our creative and career pursuits. But that doesn’t mean you’re not winning mini-marathons along the way!

For more of my real life stories and lessons from climbing the creative ladder all the way up to a career as a professional writer, visit my Media page.

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