Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fake it 'til you are it.

The jump from art to business has been very interesting for me. I often get reactions from both professors and people I am networking with when I tell them that my background is a Visual Arts degree. It's rather unexpected, and sometimes I wonder if there have been people who didn't think I could survive business school. I am surviving. And it is changing me. But I think that because I have been so focused on learning, that I haven't noticed how much. However, there are moments when it really hits me.

For example, the other day I was sitting in class thinking about how I should pick up a copy of the book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. I had remembered seeing it in all of the Starbucks locations when it came out. The first person perspective on the life of Starbucks would be really interesting. Then I sighed thinking, I'll never find the time to read it with all of the schoolwork I have right now.

Then I realized something. When the book first came out and I saw it in all of the Starbucks locations, I remember rolling my eyes. Another marketing gimmick, I thought at the time, who would buy into that? Yet here I was, years later, feeling distraught over the fact that I did not have enough free time to read this book about a business while in business school.

Today I went to see my career adviser to do a mock interview and discuss my internship prospects. We discussed the cover letters I have submitted, as well the answers I had prepared for my interviews. She said to me that she is not worried about me getting a position because I have great interview answers and that I am really learning how to communicate with business language. She said she was very impressed with me.

Who am I? I thought. When I first moved to Ontario it was rough for me, I felt very out of place. Things are different here, people are less brash and more professional. And colder. I had to learn to be less forward and communicate accordingly. Three years ago, in peasant skirts and hoodies, I moved here feeling like I would never belong.

Eventually I became comfortable here, dressed a bit better, began communicating differently, and made a good pocket of friends. Then I joined business school and all of those feelings began all over again. I'm a Fine Arts graduate, who let me into business school? I can't wear business attire without getting a run in my pantyhose and scuffing up my shoes, who is ever going to believe me as a business person? There were many periods in my 20's where I have felt like I was mutt in a dog show, just waiting to be found out. Yet, I haven't been called out yet. If anything, I am becoming more successful every day.

A few months ago I watched a TED talk that really expressed how I've been feeling the last few years. It's by Amy Cuddy and it is called "Your body language shapes who you are". It is about how your own body language can affect you psychologically. However, the importance of body language is not what I took away from the talk. Near the end Amy Cuddy spoke of her life, and how after getting in a car accident her intelligence had been affected. She eventually managed to get into university, but was struggling with it immensely. She spoke to a professor about it and told them "I don't belong here". That's a feeling I have felt a thousand times.

Amy Cuddy says, don't fake it until you make it, fake it until you are it.  Fake it until someday you become that thing. Someday when you are it you will have a moment when you realize how much you've changed. You'll realize that you aren't faking it anymore. You'll realize that you didn't even notice when that happened. You'll realize that you belong.

If you can find the time, I highly suggest watching this TED talk. From someone who is faking it until they are it, who feels so out of place constantly, who wants so badly to succeed and express my talents and capabilities to the world, it will inspire you. Also, keep your mind open. Things that may not seem interesting to you may someday become another passion of yours. And perhaps, saying that the program has changed me isn't appropriate. Rather, it has helped me grow.

<3 Lenore