Fake it 'til you fake it

Photos: Getty Images
Photos: Getty Images
You know, sometimes you have those days. Or weeks, even. Where the sun doesn't quite shine, metaphorically or actually, Liz Breslin writes.
Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin

Where screen time/insomnia/family issues/the bottom line/ bad hair/ migraines/patriarchal nonsense/ deadlines weigh heavily and humourlessly over everything you do.

Whoever says life should be on an even keel of happy happy joy joy isn't paying honest attention to the truths and the tides and the rhythms of things. But since we seem to be living more and more in a superficial culture of soundbites and manicured appearances, and since ``faking it'' has been largely recognised as a good strategy, here are my top six ways to maintain an illusion of plain sailing in your life.


There is only so much coffee you can drink. I know because I have done extensive research on this subject. (You're welcome.) Tea can be used in myriad ways as a buffer for faking the normality of life. Best and most effective, at work: make a cup of tea, walk around the office/campus holding it and looking like you are existing with purpose. Even better if you have keys on a lanyard and/or shoes that make good clicky sounds as you walk. It doesn't matter if you ever get around to drinking the tea. Drinking it is not the point. Especially do not get trapped into sitting down with someone for a nice cup of tea and actually talking. That's just risky behaviour. You have an illusion to maintain here.


Yellow mascara. Lollipop nails. Glittery shoulders. Who's looking at puffy eye-bags? It's like Frank Abagnale jun. says in Catch Me If You Can: ``That's the reason the Yankees always win. Nobody can keep their eyes off the pinstripes''. Well, it's not exactly like that, but it's the same principle being used by magicians, pinstripe-suit-wearers, shoddy sellers and governments the world over. Look here, not here.


Don't think of this as buying into the stereotype of a sloth in lycra. Nine-tenths of Wanaka cannot be wrong. Swap your tea cup for a water bottle and your clicky shoes for trainers. Boom. You're on your way to a personal best. Even if it is just a personal best impression of having somewhere to go and wanting to get there. Winner.


Actually, can you think of a single superhero that wears a scarf? Neither. But there was one day in 1996 where two people called me chic and I'm pretty sure it was because of the scarf I was wearing. And it wasn't even pinstriped. And all those fashionistas can't be wrong. Can they? Wearing a scarf puts the problems of the world into perspective. Oh wait. No, it doesn't. It just makes your to-do list look chic-er.


Not in a crazed-in-the-car Thelma and Louise way, especially not during school drop-off/pick-up times. Not while you're trying to maintain an illusion. But loud music is epic for covering snivels, for covering the fact you don't know the words and for drowning out requests for anything else from anyone else that might tip your precarious mental balance. ``Sorry, what's that darling? I can't hear you over my carefully curated mix of Enter Sandman, Gloria (Patti Smith, none of your in excelsis Deo) and Asaf Avidan and the Mojos wailing their One Day/Reckoning Song. Stay away from Nat King Cole, Simon and Garfunkel and anyone else who is going to get you to smile though your heart is breaking across troubled waters. You're busy faking it, remember, not laying you down.


See above, musically speaking, except you can even just wear one earbud and talk or sing to yourself as you walk around. Because that's what passes for sanity these days. Come to think of it, maybe it's the rest of the world that's off kilter and you're completely fine. OK then, as you were. This too shall pass. Oh look, here comes the sun. Embrace the ride.



Public Presentation and Self Defence:

So, you talk to yourself. This practice is normative in other countries, but off putting for others, here. Carry a mobile phone. It doesn't need to be turned on, but people think you're just making a call.

If 'monstered' by a group in public, hold the phone in such a way as to give the impression you're photographing the motley crew. You're not, because the phone is Off. So too, are they.

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