I love to lie.
It’s an undeniable truth. Slipping into the stitches of fraud, I wear dishonesty like it's a greater identity than my own. Perhaps that’s the reality of it all—I feel out of place in my frame and need the support of fabricated ones to keep me grounded. Or maybe it's to keep me interested because I am so dissatisfied with the monotony of the everyday. What’s more enticing than layering your life in brightly colored lights, over and over again, until it’s unrecognizable?
There's a misconception that lying requires a lot of diligence and premeditated planning to execute it correctly. The opposite rings true: You only need a relaxed demeanor that enables you to glide in and out of honesty and dishonesty in everyday conversation. The best lies have no reason for existing besides the sheer pleasure of speaking them into existence, procuring their permanence into thin air.
My mother calls me to ask what I’m doing. I respond that I’m walking to the grocery store as I lie in bed, the afternoon sun warming the skin of my crossed ankles.
The boy who lives across the street sits on my porch and tells me he could see us getting married. I feel my stomach churn before smiling.
Lying to myself—that’s the greatest circus act of all. When I catch my reflection under the warm light of the bathroom, I am met with cavernous under–eye circles and bruised nail beds that suggests perhaps I am not enjoying any identity, true or false. Yet I still manage to remind myself that I can escape into any daydream I want. I whisper that I can change my life any way I please as long as I have the words to do so. I talk myself out of taking online depression screening tests and instead pick up a new novel, a new world to ascribe to. What a great accomplishment that is, convincing yourself that your world can be rewritten.
On the morning of my 20th birthday, I woke up in a bed adorned with flecks of chunky silver glitter and miniature photo prints. This is the true image of the morning after: a girl stripping her bed of its linens and her body of its clothes to run a mountainous load of laundry. My quarters moving about in my pocket as I walked to the basement, I finally began thinking of the fact that I was not a teenager. There was no more coming of age; whatever I did the last few years of my life were fixed forever, and I am back at a blank canvas once more.
But instead of thinking of all the ways that I should color over my canvas, I'm slowly uncovering that lying is not an integral part of my personality—it's an escape from it. I'm realizing that the pieces of my life I wish to conceal are not disappearing—they're just becoming more difficult to carry, and more difficult to recognize. I want to finally understand myself, a privilege I've been deprived of for the sake of something authentic. I want to indulge in my everyday life and feel fulfilled by it.
Truth, I am learning, is the acceptance that this is it. You can change your life to fit your vision of fulfillment, but you must do so earnestly, using the foundation that you already have in front of you. I have dreams, ones so close to me that they’re nearly tangible, and I subvert them for something instant instead of working towards them for something sustainable.
Instead of denying the feelings I have about myself and my life, I can address them. I can figure out what makes me genuinely happy, the people who have changed my life for the better, the person I want to be in ten years. Instead of lying to get to who I want to be, I can face the truth to understand why I want to be her. Wanting to be great is not an excuse to stop holding yourself accountable; I can enjoy fiction without becoming a fictional character.
Even now, after settling into 20 for several weeks, I've enjoyed toying with the idea of living a life in truth instead of making a better one up. Maybe I’m going to turn out to be the type of adult who wakes up every morning at seven and makes a fresh pot of espresso on the stove—even though it's been difficult to get out of bed before ten, I am hopeful. Maybe I will buy long dresses and brown marble clips to pin my hair back—I always wish to look more studious than I actually am. A lot of 'maybes' have colored my life, but now they harbor the greatest relationship of all, that which lies between truth and effort. Lying has become easy, but living takes work, and great work at that. I still want to live in layers of brightly colored lights, and I plan on it. Only now I choose to slip into the stitches of authenticity, and I look forward to seeing how it changes my life.