Alright people, let’s just be honest with ourselves shall we? At some point or another, in one way or another, we have all 100%, gen-u-ine faked it. In business. In life. Possibly the bedroom. And almost certainly in the doctor’s surgery when they ask how much alcohol you consume each week.
There’s a lot to be said for some brazen confidence. We’ve all seen The Apprentice. An unadulterated — borderline shameless — belief that you know what you’re doing when you actually have fuck all idea will get you a long, long way.
Does this sound at all familiar?
Client: As you’re obviously an expert in <stuff>, we’ll be looking to you to steer us on this.
Me: Absolutely, no problem at all.
Me: Puts “<stuff>” into Google.
An unadulterated — borderline shameless — belief that you know what you’re doing when you actually have fuck all idea will get you a long way.
Of course in order to do a vaguely decent job and retain some kind of reputation you either have to be an absolute pro at picking up new skills and information quickly (me, obviously), or you ultimately have to draw the line somewhere and there will be situations where it’s best to just admit defeat. And by admit defeat, I of course mean never actually say it’s beyond your experience and instead tell the aforementioned client that you’re “just too crazy busy right now to take this one on”. But when you’re starting out as a freelancer or your diary’s looking scarily empty and it’s approaching direct debit season, then sometimes blagging it really is the only way to survive.
Although we would never like to say it too loud (I could be shooting myself in the foot here), flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants comes with the territory when you work for yourself and definitely goes hand-in-hand with being a parent. Only with the whole parenting thing, the stakes are about a million times higher and you really are just expected to get on with it, supposedly knowing what you’re doing with zero experience, zero training.
Midwife: As you obviously have no clue what to do with a <small human>, we’ll be looking to you to raise <small human> for the foreseeable. At least until they’re 18, possibly 35.
Me: Puts “<small human>” into Google.
It’s little wonder us freelancers are so hell bent on the ultimate ‘winging it’ experience that is procreation because we really are the kings and queens of blag.
It’s little wonder us freelancers are so hell bent on the ultimate ‘winging it’ experience that is procreation because we really are the kings and queens of blag. We wholeheartedly assure grandma that of course little Rory never watches TV; we nod vigorously in agreement with our fellow parents whose toddlers brush their teeth before they go to bed; and we are always, always busy with work. So much damn work. All the damn time. Phew. Work. WOW.
We are literally googling our way through our working and parenting lives. We’re making do. We’re making it up. And actually that’s no bad thing. In fact, that’s OK. That’s normal. That’s definitely what everybody else is doing except nobody wants to admit it. In fact, a lot of the time, that’s how a lot of businesses even get off the ground. Blag. Brag. Swag.
Did I talk about the non-existent ‘naughty step’ with enough authority to convince my child that I am a legit, functioning, human adult? Just about.
Did my off-the-cuff speech about print design being my ‘bread and butter’ convince that new client to book me for a job? Looks like it.
Did I persuade the nursery staff that what my son was actually saying was ‘sit’? Possibly.
With a bit of confidence you can successfully get other people to believe in what you’re doing, you can get you to believe in what you’re doing; what you’re capable of. And as the late, great Whitney once so rightly warbled — there will be miracles, when you believe.
Photograph by Helen Martin.