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Entry 6 - Fake It Until You Make It

Many years ago, when I was in London, my then boss was involved in a TV show called “Faking It”. You may or may not remember this show, in which celebrities or the general public were challenged to succeed in a field they essentially knew nothing about. In this instance she was training a celebrity to succeed as a competitor in our wonderful world of ballroom dance.

My boss, being a former world champion, was the ULTIMATE perfectionist and faking it was never in her vocabulary until her involvement in this show and, I sometimes feel, until she met me.

Karen took a gamble on me, a complete unknown newly qualified teacher from "up't north", as she liked to say. If you know me well then you will know that self belief has never been my strong point. If you know me less well you will think that I ooze confidence. You might say I am

permanently “faking it”.

I was fully qualified when I met Karen (although she insisted I redo everything in her name) but I remember my first lesson with our team of instructors VIVIDLY. I was terrified. I had never danced with dancers of this calibre before and I was visibly shaken, believing I would never be good enough to fit in. The advice that Karen then gave me is equally as vivid 12 years later. She said (in her southern cross Kiwi accent) “Nonsense! You just haven’t had the experiences yet but I wouldn’t believe in you if you couldn’t”

Over the years I worked with many many amazing dancers and was I always terrified. Did I have to fake it? - absolutely! But Karen never ever made me feel like I couldn’t do anything, even though I never ever felt like I could. Over the years I travelled across the globe and competed and danced in some of the biggest pro-am competitions in the world. She never once let me doubt that I was good enough.

If I told you I walked off that floor feeling like I was worthy I would be lying but my students and I had amazing results. Only now do I see what an achievement that was and that it was me. I did that.

Fast forward to now, 2022. I’ve been head teacher for a studio owned by a world champion. I’ve been involved in some amazing events with some huge names, won competitions, dances and choreographed some amazing work and now, my biggest success - I am the proud owner of my very own dance academy, where my students think, (I hope) that I am something like as inspirational as Karen was to me.

Why am I writing this blog? Because the thing I hear the most is “I want to but I can’t” or “I’m not good enough, I’ll never be ready”.

Last week my students entered their first ever competition. Each one of them nearly pulled out at various points due to fear of whether they were good enough - especially when I caught Covid and couldn’t be there on the day. Yet we made every single final and even a first place.

I wept.

I wept tears of joy for my amazing students who I hope now have that first glimmer of self belief we can nurture into the supernova of light they deserve and I wept because - I did that. Solo. Maybe, just maybe, I can tell my head I’m not faking it anymore.

So my lovely friends and students. Here I am with many many years in the business. I have amazing qualifications, experience and knowledge that I treasure and seek to both enhance and pass on constantly. Am I confident? No. Am I happy that people can look to me as the dancer and teacher I always wanted to be? Hell yes.

So whether it’s taking your first steps in a beginners class or stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve your dancing/performing dreams, remember, “fake it until you make it”

And to quote 5x world champion, my former boss and treasured friend Karen Hardy. When you think you can’t (you’ll have to imagine my Burnley cross Chelsea accent)

“Nonsense! You may not have had the same experiences but I wouldn’t have believed in you if you couldn’t”

Fake it - because you will always make it if someone believes in you and I do.

Emma x


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