How to Fake Confidence: A Lesson in Tricking Strangers


People often ask me, “Julia, how is it that you are so charming and personable and able to make friends with everyone you meet?”

And I say, “Well, Mom, it’s because I’m totally faking it.”

Have you ever walked into a room of people and instantly thought, “Everyone thinks I’m the dumbest, least-fashionable person here?”

I have. I have thought this even though I am actually not that dumb, just horrible at math, and I consider myself a tiny fashionista (tiny here being maybe a little bit of a fashionista, not a physically tiny person).

But I’m going to tell you how to fake confidence, even if you walk into a room feeling this way.

I’m going to tell you how to fake confidence even if ten girls who look like they have their life more together than you approach you to chat.

I’m going to tell you how to fake confidence even if you are just meeting a super cute guy for the first time you are really hoping to impress, but all you can think about is how the pants you are wearing are still wet because you left them in the washer too long and didn’t have time to dry them all the way.

I suffered with what was probably debilitating shyness right up until college. I was that person in high school other people thought was super mean because I have resting bitch face and I was too aware of my own awkward self to try to hold a normal conversation with anyone outside my friend group.

I don’t know what happened in college, but I’m thankful that whatever magical trance came over me, it worked. The day I set foot in my freshman dorm I had this weird, slightly high assumption that literally everyone was excited to meet me (and, to be fair, they were, because I attended a private Presbyterian liberal arts college that is essentially a more academic version of Christian summer camp). But feeling like everyone already liked me made my confidence level skyrocket, and I started believing it even after the newness of freshmen year had worn off.

Here’s how I learned to fake confidence:

Whenever I’m meeting someone new for the first time, I go in with the (totally made up in my head) assumption they already think I’m the coolest person they’ve ever met, that they cannot believe how insanely cool I am and how confident (See? It’s working already!) I am about my own coolness, and they want to be my friend.

Once you go in with the assumption that whoever you are meeting is blown away by the coolness of you, your actions start to match. Your jokes get funnier. Your body gets less tense. Your demeanor changes from anxious to warm.

If you think that everyone you meet wants to be your friend, you will automatically start acting a whole lot nicer to them, and a whole lot more interested in who they are. You won’t even notice this happening until you are suddenly having a very energetic conversation with a complete stranger at your friend’s birthday party.

In essence, you trick yourself (and everyone else) into thinking you are the sh*t. Which you probably already are, but often we talk ourselves out of believing awesome things about ourselves.

Now, your assumption that everyone is drawn to you and wants to be your friend might be wrong, but who cares? In this moment you are the only one who knows what’s going on inside your head, and what is going on inside your head is a tiny conga line chanting over and over, “Everyone here likes you, hey! Everyone here likes you, hey!”

Confidence, my friends, can be a fake it till you make it activity. Trick yourself and you will trick others (you know, in the best way).

5 replies »

  1. Reading this I felt the most overpowering sense of pride (in you) and “oh no!” (in me). I think I started operating on the expectation that everyone wants to be my friend very early on in life. However, I didn’t realize I was faking the expectation until junior high…been rocking your strategy low these 36 years since. Now I’m wondering, did the literally thousands of people I’ve chatted up, know the truth???!!!
    Ah but Julia…you ARE the person everyone wants to befriend!!!

  2. Awesome! I like that you’re not so much saying “fake it til you make it” but “BELIEVE that you are the coolest person ever, and your belief will change your feelings and actions.” I’m not sure if everyone would say there’s a difference, but to me, there is.

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