Natalie Sensenig

Mar 17, 2019

7 min read
Student teaching has definitely been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m only half way through! Reflecting on the last few weeks, I’ve learned so many valuable, hard and painful but still valuable, lessons and I’m excited to put them into action!

Fake It ’Til You Make It…Temporarily

Fake it ’til you make it! Sorta…That’s probably not the best advice…

I guess what I should say is, that’s only TEMPORARY advice. It can be great and get you far in life… but only for a short time. You can’t keep on faking it forever. Think about every movie and tv show you’ve ever watched, the fakers always get caught! And if they don’t, that’s because at some point along the way, they stopped faking it and it became real.

So don’t fake it ’til you make it. FIX IT!

During the last few weeks while I’ve been student teaching, I figured that out the hard way. When you’re faking it, everything may look all fine and dandy on the outside, but behind the scenes, LIFE IS A MESS! Because you aren’t a real (fill in the blank), you really don’t know what you’re doing or how to do it well, you’re just someone who’s making it up as you go and hoping no one notices.

Come on. We’ve all done it, so don’t try and sit there saying you haven’t. Maybe your situation is different than mine. Maybe you weren’t faking it as a student teacher (or maybe if you’re one of my fellow student teacher friends, you were) but maybe you were faking it at work, or in school, or as an “adult” living on your own, or as a Christian, or a parent, or in whatever other roles you may play in life. Take a minute and think about your life. I promise, YOU DO NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER in every aspect of your life.

Did you figure out where you’re faking it yet? I know, it’s super hard to admit sometimes because we want to look like we know what we’re doing. But we don’t. And that’s ok. That’s where the TEMPORARY fake it ’til you make it comes in. Notice ‘temporary’ was in caps?? Yeah I did that on purpose. Because in life, you’re not going to have it all together all the time but some situations require you to pretend that you do. So do it. Fake it. But only fake it ’til you fix it. (I know, “fake it ’til you make it” essentially means the same thing, but I think so often when we hear that phrase, we only focus on the “fake it” part, not the “make it” part so I’m adding different words just to make you think a little more.)

You know what I learned as I faked it in student teaching? Faking it leads to burnout. At least for me it did.

I acted like I had it all together and I could handle whatever that classroom could throw at me…and for awhile I did! It worked really well in the beginning until all of the sudden, it didn’t. I didn’t have it all together. I didn’t have my assignments and lessons done on time. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I wasn’t spending time with those I cared about. Most importantly, I wasn’t spending time with Jesus. And all that faking it burned me out (ugh that word makes me cringe but honestly “burnout” is the only accurate description) Suddenly, I didn’t care about faking it or making it anymore. I just wanted to be done. I wanted to quit. I still loved my students and wanted what was best for them, but I no longer wanted that to be me. I didn’t want to fix it. I just wanted to be done.

Maybe you’ve been in this place and maybe you haven’t. I sincerely hope you haven’t. But chances are, at some point, you’ve felt that sense of discouragement that comes from knowing you’re still faking it. When you’ve been faking it and trying so hard to get better for so long, but it seems like you’ll never actually reach it. You feel like you’ll never actually move past the faking it stage and into the making it stage.

See this is where my dislike of the phrase comes from. It makes it sound like if I just fake it long enough, I’ll eventually make it. YEAH, NO! Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. You have to put in some effort to FIX IT. It’s not going to happen on its own.

But fixing it is HARD! As I went through this journey, trying to fix things until I eventually just wanted to give up, I got rather frustrated with God. Why would He let me keep going on like this when He can clearly see I can’t handle it? Because I actually could handle IT, just not by myself. I needed to rely on Him for the strength to keep going every day. I needed to ask Him for the wisdom to know how to handle the classroom. I needed to trust Him that He knew what He was doing in allowing all that for me.

God knows what’s best for us. He knows what we need when we need it. Often times when I’m praying for someone and I know they’re struggling with something, instead of asking God to do whatever I think would be best for them (given the limited information of the situation I have) I instead ask Him to give them whatever He knows they need the most. He knows the ins and outs of every situation and every part of our lives. Think about it, He designed us so of course He knows what’s going on! Even when we’re faking it so well that no one else on earth can tell, He still see’s what’s truly going on. And He knows exactly what we need, more than any other person and even more than we know ourselves. HE KNOWS.

And He is a loving and gracious Father. He wants us to succeed in what He’s called us to and He is going to equip us to do it. Is He going to magically equip us for our calling so that we wake up one morning completely ready for life? Most of the time, NOPE. He’s not going to do the work for us, but He’s going to prepare us to do the work ourselves. He will put us in situations that are difficult and exhausting and painful but He only does that because He knows that’s what we need. And He will give us the strength, perseverance, power, etc. that we need to do it. (read Romans 8:28–39 for more on this, its seriously one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible)

Jump back to my story quick. Through these last few weeks I learned SO MUCH! Both good and bad. Yes I burned out after only 7 ½ weeks of semi-real adulting (that sounds so pathetic right?) but through that, I learned exactly what I need to change to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Do you think this was a coincidence that I learned this lesson while I was still a student (in a super short placement with spring break coming up) rather than as an actual teacher with my own students and no break in sight? OF COURSE NOT! He lined that up on purpose to help me prepare for the future! YES it was painful and YES it was hard, but it was for my good.

And that’s not the only blessing He lined up in this. He knew exactly how hard it was going to be and that I would need some seriously strong prayer support so He lined up for me 5 wonderful women to act as my prayer partners in this journey! Thank you, Lord! And not only that, He also knew that I didn’t have the knowledge necessary to keep myself from making the same mistakes again in my next placement, so He lined up another thing by Jordan Lee Dooley to help me out (I mentioned her awhile ago, she’s a writer/speaker/podcaster/inspirational Christian woman) She created this course called Back to the Basics Bootcamp to help people put consistency and balance back into their lives and it was just released in the beginning of my student teaching. God gave me enough common sense that day to know that this was most likely going to be something I needed so I enrolled, and lemme tell ya, some of the stuff she has in there has been a LIFE SAVER! God knew I was going to need that so He lined things up for me to get it.

Now if your brain doesn’t work like mine does, you may be wondering how exactly “fake it ’til you make it” fits together with “God knows what we need” so I’ll explain. When life changes, you need to change with it. Part of becoming a mature teacher/adult/Christian/fill in the blank means changing and growing and stepping out of your comfort zone. Well you’re probably not going to know exactly how to do that at first so you’re going to have to fake it for a little bit. As you fake it though, you also need to be working to fix it. Those life changes and the personal growth/fixing that goes with them are put there on purpose by God to help shape you into the person He is calling you to be. He is preparing you and equipping you for your calling. See the connection now?

Side note: Here’s another thing I learned that I think is important to mention. Faking it and fixing it ’til you make it doesn’t mean you’re going to be good at everything. There are things that you will struggle with and may never get really good at (like me and any sport involving running or a ball!) But that doesn’t mean you should keep on faking it forever or become really hard on yourself for not “fixing it” and getting good at it. Sometimes, fixing it means acknowledging that it’s a struggle or weakness of yours and that you need help. That’s actually a good thing! God tells us “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Praise the Lord for the things you excel at and use them for His glory and in the things you don’t, still use that for His glory. Each one of your struggles, whatever they may be, is an ideal situation to show God’s power and grace.

So where are you faking it? How are you going to fix it?