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Fake it ’til you make it

May 5, 2016

How many of us have heard the phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it?” Raise your hands. Ok so a LOT of us. I have a love/extreme dislike relationship with this phrase. The extreme dislike comes from it hitting the same nerve as someone telling me to “Just be happy!” when I’m in deep mental funk. Again I think this can go to the societal misunderstanding about mental illness. Anyways, I’ve been on this soap box in the last emails so I’ll step down…for now.

Why do I love this statement? Mainly because it reminds me that when I’m in my mental funk and wanting to take up permanent residence in my blanket fort, this is not necessarily the best action to help me heal. There is the balance of blanket fort time and “faking it” in the real world. It’s a good thing that in my real world there are friends, chosen family and blood family who are almost as good as a blanket fort. Maybe they are human forts. People to be with who you can occupy space with without needing to act or be a certain way. They offer a hug, a smile, maybe hold my hand. You know these people, the ones who you talk to in your head while hiding out. Man, I hope your shaking your head in agreement here otherwise my therapist and I need to add this to my list to discuss. I’m going to go with that you totally know what I’m talking about here. See “fakin’ it ‘til I make it!”

Another way that I use this phrase to my advantage is to think of something bigger outside my immediate world that I can focus some energy on. It takes the focus off my broken mind and allows me to get shit done and maybe help someone else along the way. Lately my energy and thoughts have been occupied by the crisis occurring in the Mediterranean sea. This location holds so many amazingly beautiful memories for me.

Greece, Italy and Turkey were where I study abroad when in college (Yes, I can remember that far back). The Greek islands that I hear about daily in the news are where I fell in love with travel and living in a new culture. The sunsets were amazing setting over the white marble ruins. And oh my gosh the food. There is a reason that the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the best. Frankly I liked sitting for hours over amazing meals just watching life go by and this was totally acceptable. No rushing from place to place. I also really like siesta time. I’m a great proponent of naps.

Then more recently the Strait of Gibraltar was where I had an amazing swim. It was my first time in Africa, even if it was just for a minute before swimming back to the boat. It was where I was attacked by a pod of pilot whales. Ok attacked is an extreme exaggeration, but they did get really really close. Let’s just say my crew yelled to me “Don’t worry they won’t eat you.” One of the scariest and most comforting things to hear on a swim.

The daily tragedy that is occurring in these places created such a dilemma for me, especially since my plan in the next few years is to swim the Bosporus Strait between Turkey and Greece. How can these places where I spend money to go play and have fun, be the same places where money and people are exploited to reach safety? I can’t necessarily reconcile these two feelings. Just recently I was introduced to Circle of Health International (COH Intl.) by two colleagues. This non-profit is focused on aiding women and children in crisis situations. And they were beginning to launch their Go the Distance Campaign, with the goal to mimic the most dangerous part of a woman’s journey as they flee towards safety. Imagine my surprise that one of the journeys was to mimic swimming the Bosporus strait. I don’t know if it was the world giving me a sign to crawl out of my fort, but I latched on.

I contacted the COH Intl and offered my support and contacts in the marathon swimming community. I figured that I couldn’t be the only marathon swimmer struggling with the same ideas about Mediterranean and our own personal swimming passions. Thankfully the non-profit has allowed me to barge my way in. (I wish I was kidding about the barging. I’m not.) While we were hoping to go to Greece/Turkey to swim the Bosporus Strait on May 8th – Mother’s Day, the travel restrictions and crisis situation over there is not cooperating. Is this a case of irony? I don’t really know as Alanis Morsette kind of ruined my understanding of irony. Dang that catchy song. I’m getting off track here, sorry.

Regardless, I have taken the reigns of Go the Distance to help me fake it ‘til I make it. Instead of the campaign culminating in an event on Mother’s Day, COH Intl. and I are going to work to have a Go the Distance event every month up until at least the new year. The kick-off is going to be Mother’s Day in Austin TX, COH Intl headquarters. I’m really looking forward to heading down there in the next few weeks and getting in some good time in the water in an amazing city and for a good cause.

The good karma from this event is spreading beyond the Mother’s Day Austin event mainly from the great work of COH Intl and a little publicity from the Daily News of Open Water Swimming. In June, Go the Distance will head to Northern California. Then in July, I’ll take the banner and campaign with me to Northern Ireland, as I await for the weather window to swim the North Channel. August leads the campaign to Massachusetts for a swim there with Elaine Howley.

Want to join the campaign? Well, you can. You don’t even have to be a swimmer. They are even accepting you land sport people – crazy as you all are. See Go the Distance is very accepting. In fact, one of our my colleagues has created a team called the “Sneaker Flippers” Come on, join the fun! Want to help keep the campaign running throughout the year – let me know and I’ll get you the banner and instructions. It wouldn’t take more than 1-2 hours of your time mostly Facebook, Twitter posts and getting the word out. I’m trying to leverage the groups that we already have created that we swim/run/bike/skateboard/etc. with rather than creating an “official” event. We want this easy to participate in and for those feel- good endorphins to kick in quickly.

4 months planned for Go the Distance and I haven’t retreated yet to my fort. Maybe this faking it isn’t quite so bad.

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One Response to “Fake it ’til you make it”

  1. Gary Macy says:

    I have read that if you fake it often enough and long enough, you become what you are faking. I have seen that work; not always, but sometimes. You have picked something great to fake. Maybe the great part of the fake is already at least partly you. I think so, but I am prejudiced as one of your biggest fans.

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