Living a lie

Examining the reasons why I used to lie about everything

Kripa Mayureshwar

“We went snorkeling with sharks! It was so cool!” a girl in my second grade class said, recounting the fun she had during summer vacation in Cancun.

“I went to Cancun this summer too!” I said, excitedly. I did not, in fact, go to Cancun that summer. I haven’t been there to this day. But my dad had been there before for a business trip, so I spent half an hour talking to this girl about how awesome Cancun was while frantically trying to remember everything my dad had told me about his travels.

Graphic by Kripa Mayureshwar

That girl and I quickly became good friends, and we remained that way all year. Our friendship, quite literally, was formed on a lie.

I’ve always loved talking to people — getting to know about other people’s lives, learning why they act the way they do and hearing their stories about their lives is so fascinating. But most importantly, talking to people led to making friends — and I love making friends.

I’ve always admired the students at school who seem to be friends with everyone — and I wanted to be one of them. What more do I have to do? I thought. How can I be more like them?

In elementary school, after spending several weekends without my friends because they were too busy to hang out with me, I came to a conclusion — if I talked to more people, I’d have more friends and therefore more people would like me. That meant I’d always have someone to hang out with.

But the reality is, I didn’t (and still don’t) always know how to start a conversation because I don’t always have something to talk about. So that led me to what I thought was a foolproof way to make friends — lying — because interesting lies started conversations, and conversations started friendships.

In third grade, I lied to a group of girls in my grade about there being a gold mine under the grass field at school. A gold mine. But what’s even crazier is that they believed me. We spent a good chunk of our lunch and recess breaks that year wandering around the field, looking for the non-existent gold. The fact that I was able to connect with so many people because of a ridiculous, sensational lie only encouraged me to do it more.

Graphic by Kripa Mayureshwar

The older I got, the more I realized that these bizarre lies weren’t going to be believable anymore, so I resorted to lying about more realistic things. In middle school, I lied about having traveled to all the continents except Antarctica, having a crush on a friend, being fluent in Spanish (I only knew bad words) and even having tried alcohol before.

But I realized that despite all of these lies I was telling in an effort to get people to like me, it wasn’t working. I began to ask myself, When did I stop being able to make friends with someone just by starting a normal conversation? and Why do I have fewer friends now than ever?’

Evidently, telling lies wasn’t enough, so I began to change the way I acted depending on who I was around. 

Different people are attracted to different qualities, so obviously, one persona wasn’t going to satisfy everyone. By studying how they behaved when talking to me for the first time, I learned to change small things about myself to hopefully meet their satisfaction. I’d adjust how loud I was, how nice I was, how smart I appeared to be, how I presented myself and the amount of confidence I showed, among other things. 

It got to a point where I felt uncomfortable in settings with different friend groups together at the same time, because I wasn’t sure how to act. At my 14th birthday party, I hid in the bathroom for 10 minutes to compose myself while all my friends played card games in the living room — I had no idea who I was supposed to be around all of them at the same time.

A few weeks ago while reflecting on why my social life in middle school wasn’t ideal, I realized that the very thing I was doing to gain acceptance from everyone was exactly what was preventing me from truly connecting with others.

Lying creates distance in relationships, no matter how good you are at it. Keeping up lies is exhausting, both mentally and physically. I had to make sure my stories stayed consistent, whether that was in a literal sense or in the way I acted. So, I’ve been trying to be more honest — with other people and myself. Maybe the issue the whole time was that I wanted everyone else to like me because I didn’t like myself. 

I wish I could say that I’ve stopped lying about useless things and changing myself around people just so they would like me, but unfortunately, that’s not true. But I do know now that my self worth shouldn’t come from how much other people like me — how much I value myself should be independent of other people’s opinions. And at the very least, I am so incredibly happy with the people I’m surrounded by now, and I’m being more honest in this article than I’ve ever been before, so hey, that must mean something.