Just Pretend You’re Good at This

A black Yamaha MT07 motorcycle parked on the side of the road in monument valley, arizona with sandstone rock formations in the background

Is it possible to trace the fluttering line of your path back to the point when you diverged from following the route where anything you wanted from your life was possible? Did you knowingly see the sign that said “Anxiety, Depression, and Self-destruction this exit!” and jerk the wheel to go careening off the highway to take it? No, more than likely it was a slow, meandering ramble past split-rail fences and fields of gently waving tall green grass that lead to this dead end. You never even saw it coming.

Realistically, no one makes that choice with their eyes wide open. And it certainly isn’t something done in one shot. Instead, it’s death by a thousand paper cuts. One bandage goes on, and another wound opens somewhere else. As the pressure builds and the trauma can no longer be contained it will claw it’s way from the inside out cutting you to ribbons in the process. You try in vain to get better, get faster at putting the band-aids on, but it’s a losing battle. What you really ought to be doing is putting a stop to the cutting.

For a couple years, I suffered greatly with my depression, anxiety, and its exacting toll. The saddest shame is that I was not capable of addressing it in its mildest form before having a nuclear meltdown.

At first it was a bit more innocuous and avoidable, disguised as “that’s just how you are.” It then progressed to a smothering blanket that spread across my entire existence. I’d come up and gasp for air and see a little sunlight, and then go back under again. It continued on that way for far longer than it should have.

Then when I least expected it, my depression and anxiety turned to napalm. My former self was burned to the ground and I razed everything in my wake.

During that years-long major depressive episode the idea that I would experience a resurrection into a version of myself which could function normally or better still, with a sense of calm, happiness, or hope seemed impossible. Tapping into my self-destructive tendencies, I behaved in ways that kept me circling the drain. Without any emotional regulation in place I gluttonously gulped up setback after setback of my own making with an insatiable appetite. After all, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing to excess, but even better if you take it to the edge of annihilation.

Thankfully, even in the darkest moments, a little voice inside of me persisted in trying to steer this ship away from the rocks. What I was unable to recognize clearly at the time was that this ghost within was steadfastly at work. Mopping the sweat from it’s brow it patiently toiled away with microscopic sutures mending each wound as my fragile thinking mind went on pharmacological autopilot. All I had to do day in and day out was to pretend I was good at this; pretend I knew how to be normal. If I could just hang on and shuffle through the motions, maybe I’d find my way back.

Fast forwarding to today, when I look back at this tumultuous period of my life I am filled with sadness, loss, shame, and amazement that I made it through at all. Someone recently mentioned that my willingness to go beyond my own boundaries when not thinking clearly was scary. I’d been labeled a maniac more than once. Hearing that filled me to the brim with regret and I’m working on trying to forgive myself for it.

In hindsight, I didn’t feel positive changes as they were happening. In fact I probably would have tearfully argued at length with charts, graphs, and all manner of evidence that I would never get better. If I knew one thing it was that that my case was hopeless and everything in my existence was pointless because it would always be like “this.” And yet, my battered ghost ship sailed on quietly, carrying me forward.

It is surprising to even me how some people in my life had no idea of the depths of my despair and my feelings of brokenness. Then again, I’d always been moody and aloof, and withdrew now and then only to surface again just fine. People stop noticing, are hurt, become exhausted, plus I’ve always been rather good at keeping secrets or my cards close to the vest. But, even when attempting to let some folks in just a tiny bit, they would bristle, try to “fix” me, or outrightly deny my feelings about things.

If I could fool other people into thinking that I was okay, that I was actually good at being normal maybe I might even fool myself for long enough to take a conscious step forward. Then one day, maybe I wouldn’t have to pretend anymore. Instead, I would in fact just be okay.

That’s me today ~ resoundingly okay. For real. And man, did it take a lot of work.

This idea of pretending I’m good at stuff is something I’ve unwittingly learned to deploy in many areas of my life. In fact, I use it now at work all the time to try to quell my anxiety about performative or demonstrative things I have to do in my role there.

More recently in the fall of 2023, leading up to my riding trip out west I started to feel anxious about what I was about to do. What I found was adopting a fake it til you make it attitude got me over some of my hurdles of self doubt.

One might argue that this is its own form of self-deception and I suppose that could be true. But I think at this point I prefer to frame it more as an investment in actually being good at something.


Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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8 Responses

  1. Danny says:

    You do a lot of brave stuff: Putting yourself out there, warts and all.

    Getting on two wheels and going places far and near is likely the easiest hint you’re doing.

    And we appreciate all of it.

  2. I can relate to all of that, and it is always a brave part of life to open up about it. It is okay not to be okay is something I live by, and motorcycling, solo or with a friend, is something that gets me through the black holes., and believe me, like yourself, there have been plenty, and no doubt more around the corner. Carry on what you are doing, because I love your posts.

  3. Wuzzie says:

    And I was not listening…

  4. Jim says:

    Your remarks so eloquently expressed are a lovely surprise this Sunday morning. I’ve been following you being good at something for years. Seeing you pop up in my email always brings a smile.
    Thank you.

  5. “Fake it until you make it” requires a leap of faith. Faith that without knowing how things will work out. That approach can get a person past some rough stuff.

    Take care of yourself Fuzz…. it’s an adventure worth taking.

  6. Ron Perlik says:

    That was a powerful and relatable post. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Curvyroads says:

    So glad you guided yourself through. Keep being you, and ride on!

  8. Thanks for sharing. Personally, motorcycles, photography and the help of a great therapist saved me from the abyss.

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