MR Writers Club Prompt: A Lie You Believed About Yourself
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Have you heard of the Man Repeller Writers Club? Every month we pose a story idea, you write about it and then send it to us ( with the subject line “MR Writers Club.” We go through all submissions and post the winner on the first Saturday of every month. Ready? Let’s go.

Joan Didion famously said, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” but sometimes those stories are exactly the things that keep us from living. I can map the trajectory of my life over a mountain of disproven lies, and every time I unearth a new one, it feels like another pass to move forward. When I chose to study business administration in undergrad, I told myself it was the smartest choice. Really it was the safest. When I applied to art school after getting a business degree, I told myself I liked to throw paint around and wear chopsticks in my hair. I didn’t. When I bought a bunch of indie print magazines a few years ago, I told myself I loved the feeling of paper in my hands. I never read them.

The older I get, the more I believe that growth is simply dismantling lies you previously believedFor this month’s writers club prompt, tell me a lie you used to believe about yourself, or one you’re just discovering. It could be one someone told you was true, one society led you to believe, or just something you told yourself over and over contrary to the evidence.

Harling convinced herself she had size eight feet for years, even though all her shoes were vaguely too small. Ashley believed she was a “numbers person” all through college, until she realized she loathed them, then became a comedian. Amelia told herself she was lactose intolerant until realizing that was bullshit just this year. I’m sure you have some of your own on hand, big or small, funny or sad, so tell me about one in 500 words or less and send it to write [at] manrepeller [dot] com with the subject line “MR Writers Club” by Tuesday, October 31st (Halloween! Spooky!) at 12 p.m. EST.

It’s Honesty Month, after all.

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  • Carmen

    I relate to this so hard. So much of my twenties was figuring out who I am in terms of categories, regimens, styles, etc. In my thirties, I’ve found that growing up in so liberating. I’m messy. I defy categories. I’m not the woman with a skincare regimen. I think marketing to girls and women is all about getting girls and women to believe in lies about themselves that ultimately pull them away from discovering who they are in all their uniqueness.

    • rainbowskies

      👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 I agree so wholeheartedly. I am in my mid-30’s, and when I think back to my 20’s, I realize how much of it was still about what other people thought/would think of me, and figuring out what categories and boxes I fit into/should fit into- I’ve done away with so much of that in my 30’s. Every time I see or hear my 5 year old daughter doing/saying/wearing whatever the F she wants with no care for the opinions of anyone but herself, my heart applauds ❤️

  • Emily

    actually, dealing with this acutely right now in my job search, with no idea how i truly want to proceed, and which are the lies i’m telling myself haha. ugh!

    • streats

      I’ve had this problem recently. I recently made the big decision to quit my job and leave the country I called home for 8 years, move back to my country of birth and live with my parents, to take some time off and figure out what I want. It was scary as hell to get to that decision, and I kept making excuses why it was a bad idea. Eventually I just wrote down all of my fears and dismantled them one by one. Fears are in some ways lies, so in conquering those fears I found a lot of truths.

      • Emily

        Thank you so much for this. I’m actually living at home right now and trying to figure it out as well– I like to have things all planned out though and don’t love uncertainty so it’s challenging to just take some time. Fear is also definitely a big part of it, including fears totally unrelated to any specific job, like fears about my relationship or about my longterm career, and so on. I really appreciate your thoughtful comment and knowing someone else has gone through this!

        • streats

          You are so welcome! After a few months’ off recharging I am now starting interview for new jobs and the fear is coming back; it’ll be my first time going for a non-entry level job – ie when I show up on day 1 people will expect me to know what I’m doing – and my long-standing impostor syndrome is in overdrive. I’ve seriously thought about just cancelling all my interviews and going back to waitressing forever. But I gotta power through. That fear writing exercise also helped me face some irrational insecurities about relationship stuff and other life dilemmas. It really helped me. Hang in there!

  • Autumn

    After years and years of thinking I was a “creative type” this year I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I most certainly am not. It was a weird moment.

  • Tess

    Harling, I’ve doing the same thing. For the past 7ish years (since my feet stopped growing), I thought I was a 7.5. I was pretty positive, but recent evidence has led me to believe I’m actually a size 8!?! Mind blowing, all those years with shoes that hurt my feet 🙄

    • I’ve come to a similar realization. Shoe sizes are like jean sizes to me now – they vary by brand, style, and how bloated you (or your feet) feel that day. I have shoes that range from 8-9.5…and they all fit well! Once I changed my mindset, finding shoes that felt good was so much easier!

      • Jay

        Haven’t we all?

  • I was sure you do not lose any jeans-relevant weight at my age (40+), so I discarded every pair that stop fitting. A few workouts later I regret that very much.

  • Sabrina Abbas

    My entire life I thought I was TERRIBLE at math. It was my worst subject as a kid (aka the one B I had on my report card) and to my immigrant parents this was just the worst thing ever. So, I decided that since I was bad at math anyway there was no point in paying attention in algebra class and it stayed my worst subject through high school. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I was actually kinda good at math if I tried a little. All those GPA points I’ll never be able to salvage! I don’t consider myself a mathematician by any means but at least I’m not walking around believing this arbitrary lie about myself anymore.

  • Van Oscar Catacutan Tabaloc

    Well, I’ll try to write a longer piece, but I always believed I could lose weight whenever I wanted to.

  • Jay

    Oh, there are so many ones?

    Recently figured that I might not be that career person I always thought?

    Threw away a bunch of shoes the other day that just never fitted.

    Put away those dressy pants that I am just not the person for.

    Realising that I will never have a but like J.Lo, no matter how hard I work it.

    Figuring that I am not an extrovert at all, despite strong speaking skills. (Should have read the signs… or listened to my mom for that purpose…)

    Thinking I dont want kids and stay on my own. (Do I have an early midlife crisis?)

    And I actually try to make myself believe that I am NOT lactose intolerant – I love cheese AF and though I have weird reactions to that… well…

  • Mariel

    A few years ago I thought that I could be just like my sister, charismatic, fun and a people person everybody told me that we were really different but I lied to myself thinking that it was just a matter of time that it will grow up just like my height, it didn’t but I have accepted that part of myself now even if sometimes I feel envious about it.

  • I hate yoga. I spent years buying class packages and scolding myself for not going. And then like two months ago, I was on my way to an actual class and I just turned around and went home. I was like YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE IT THAT’S WHY YOU FEEL DREAD WALKING IN THERE. I was like trying to sell myself the idea that I would be beautiful and zen and relevant if I just did yoga.

    • Kelsey Moody

      Yoga stresses me OUT, I get a lot of enjoyment from working out and from meditation and yet…yogas a no for me, I FEEL YOU

  • Chloe

    Reminds me of how I somehow believed I was straight for the first 18 years of my life lolll

  • Oh well this immediately struck a chord. Writing as I uh, write.