Why I Stopped Pretending

Amy Vaughn

Writer & Blogger

I have a confession to make: I’ve been a Pretender. 

Yep, it’s true. I try so hard to have my sh*t together all the time. A lot of times, without even knowing it, I am pretending like I have it all together. All of that trying and all of that pretending is actually keeping me from the life I want and have been striving for. And, NEWSFLASH: It’s keeping you from the life you want, too.

It’s safe to say I am not alone in this. Our culture celebrates shiny, perfect things and people are no exception. We live in a culture of perfectionism and pretending, even while there is a counter-movement to live vulnerably and wholeheartedly (Thank you very much, Brene Brown!). We post our perfect lives, with our perfect partners and our perfect kids, going on our perfect vacations…and then back to our perfect careers. We all know that social media does a number on our psyches. We KNOW that we are not seeing people’s perfect lives, but we still get sucked into the comparison game and feeling really lousy that our messed up, ugly lives don’t match up with what we are seeing on the socials. And we know it’s wreaking havoc on our social-emotional well-being. Yet, here we are.

My confession is that I am going to stop pretending like I have it all together, because… (Shocker), I don’t.

Here’s the thing: I want to look like I know what I am doing in my coaching business, because I want to have more clients and I want to look like I am successful. (Who determines MY success anyway? THAT’S a whole other blog!). I want to look like I know what I am doing in my art studio, because I want to be seen as an accomplished artist (Reality: I AM an artist, whether anyone sees me or not). I want to look like I know what I am doing in the day-to-day minutia of my life, because…who doesn’t?

WHY do I do that? Because…I think (falsely) that I need to be at a certain level of “good enough” in order to be accepted and liked. I think (again, falsely) that the more I look like I know what I am doing, the more I will gain the approval of others and feel worthy. I’m calling Bullshi*t on all of that. It’s just nonsense and the reality is that that kind of thinking actually and often has the opposite effect.

Why am I going to stop pretending? BECAUSE, IT IS FREAKING EXHAUSTING. It’s exhausting to pretend like I know what to do all the time. It’s exhausting to try to prove to others and even myself that I have my sh*t together. AND, because it is disingenuous. And to that, it is a hinderance to real connection with others in any sort of meaningful way.

I’ve been so good at pretending most of my life that for so long, I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it! (And chances are, you are, too! Don’t hate on me. You know I’m right on some level, at least some of the time.)

Perfectionism and unrealistic expectations have been a heavy burden most of my life and I’m calling myself out! Enough is enough. I have gone round and round in these rabbit holes of self-doubt, self-criticism and self-hatred for so long that I wasn’t sure I would be able to get myself out of my loops of negative thinking. I have worked on kicking it for most of my life and only recently (as in the last three years) have I made significant and lasting changes when I decided to hire a Life & Mindset Coach.

I finally came to a realization that I could not make these deeply embedded changes on my own. I tried. Many times. With MANY failed (and frustrating) attempts. I read A LOT of really good self-help books, but I was unable to make lasting changes until I worked with someone one-on-one. Hiring my coach was a total game-changer and is the biggest reason why I decided to become a Mindset and Transformation Coach myself. I have seen and experienced monumental changes in my thinking, my behaviors and in the outcomes of my life and I want to help others do the same. It IS possible and it is worth every penny invested and all of the time, effort and tears. (Yeah, there will be tears. Just sayin’).

Listen. I have experienced how perfection and pretending can affect every area of a person’s life because it affected every area of MY life (not to mention those IN my life). I understand that these qualities are a part of who I am as much as it is a part of our culture. Although I may not kick it permanently to the curb, I can make a lot of progress in nipping it quickly when I notice it returning for another round of “Let’s Make Amy Feel Like Sh*t”. I have become so good at being aware of it when it creeps back that I can just keep kicking it on repeat. NBD.

So, here’s the summary: When we are locked into perfectionism and pretending, we substantially hinder our growth. It is actually detrimental to achieving our goals. It casts a shadow over relationships, making it hard to be honest and vulnerable with those we love. AND, it makes us feel lonelier than ever.

Taking this off the table is a game-changer for me. I can’t tell you the RELIEF I feel by tackling it head on.

  • I’m okay saying, “I’m not really sure what next five steps I need to take to grow my business”. I’ve never done this before. How would I know? I don’t need to know the next 5 steps or the next 100 steps. I just have to focus on the one next step and trust that when I make that step, I will figure out the next one, and then the next one. (And also…that’s why I pay a coach!)

  • I’m okay saying, “I don’t know how to grow my social media platforms to10K…YET”.

  • I feel okay saying, “I don’t know how to do ‘X’ (YET)…I’m learning”.

  • And, I am FINALLY more and more okay with making mistakes and even (gasp!) failing. 

WHY? Because that’s life. And THAT is how we grow. There is freedom in making mistakes and failing, as long as, instead of beating ourselves up, we use them as tools to make us better. I like to say “Failing forward is the only way to fail”. As long as my failures move me in a good direction, failure is welcome. And I get to choose that. Every failure moves me in a good direction because I have determined that I get to choose how I move forward. I don’t have to worry about making a “good” decision or “the right” decision. I can just move forward believing that any decision I make can work in my favor because I have a willingness to learn. It’s a lot easier to think this way, when I have gotten Pretending out of the way.

Here’s the thing: I know I am a good coach. In fact, I will go so far as to say that I know I’m a GREAT coach. I know it and believe I can say it confidently because I have witnessed incredible transformations in my clients. I have helped clients grow their self-worth and self-confidence and in so doing, my clients have begun new careers and dream jobs. They have started their own businesses. I have helped clients see themselves for who they really are: amazing, talented, resilient men and women. Overcomers. I have helped a fearful and unsure client gain the confidence in themselves to ask (and receive!) a $20K raise. I have helped my clients to restore relationships, begin new relationships and create boundaries in unhealthy relationships. This is what I know how to do. I don’t have to pretend about that. 

All the other stuff…I’m going to admit that I don’t always know what I am doing. I’m learning as I grow. I’m not going to do it perfectly, and I’m okay with that.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Please send me an email! I’d love to hear from you. Questions about coaching? Email me at amy@amykvaughn.com OR text/call me at 612.463.1606.

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