In all honesty, I’m a terrible liar. And yes, I know that’s something a good liar would say.
Whenever I try to skirt the truth, the corners of my mouth curl and my lips purse as if I’ve silently let out gas and am just waiting for you to smell it. My little sister, on the other hand, has always had an affinity for fibbing—she can run her mouth like a kitchen faucet. My parents were called into school for all sorts of her scandals growing up, from minor mix-ups to ambitious claims that were too audacious to believe. (My personal favorite: Upon watching the Mary-Kate & Ashley classic Our Lips Are Sealed, my five-year-old sister came to class raving about the pet kangaroo her family had adopted and was keeping in their Manhattan apartment.)
But even with all my supposed truth-telling, I’ve also come to accept that there’s a difference between the truth and my truth, which is, in some ways, just another lie. This is why the only person I’ve ever had any luck lying to is me. Sometimes I so badly want to believe my own delusions—especially those that protect my feelings and manage my expectations—that I’ve gone to great lengths to keep my blinders on. In no particular order, here are 10 times I’ve done so to unfortunate results.
1. The Time I Told Myself I Was a Raver
Even though I think most EDM sounds like NYC traffic, I bought a ticket to Electric Zoo music festival anyway. All of my friends were going and I told myself I’d regret it if I didn’t. It’ll be fun, I repeated, as I walked down Madison dressed in American Apparel’s finest and doused in so much glitter I could have passed for an overzealous extra on Euphoria had the show existed. Not two hours later, I ended up anxiously drinking too much before ever making it inside the tents. My mom had to come pick me up.
2. The Time I Talked Myself Into Side-Bangs
I told myself I’d look like Natalie Portman. I looked like I had a toupé. Never again.
3. The Time I Let Down a Waxing Salon
The first time I got my unibrow waxed, my mother called ahead of time to make the appointment. “Is this for Iman, the fashion model?” the salon asked. My mother found this hilarious and replied: “The one and only.” I was furious, but as a young Middle Eastern-American girl who was carrying more hair on her face than exists in a shower drain, I couldn’t afford to miss the golden opportunity. They knew she was kidding, I reassured myself, before being greeted by flower arrangements, mood lighting, and a welcome party when I showed up for my appointment. I don’t know who turned redder: me or the receptionist.
4. The Time I Convinced Myself No One Would Notice My Spray Tan
Everyone had gone away for spring break, while I was stuck celebrating the Persian New Year with my family in New York. I only wanted a healthy glow! But I forgot to factor the base color of my skin tone.
5. Every Time I’ve Ever Told Myself, It’s Just a Job
For me, it’s never just a job.
6. The Time I Convinced Myself I Loved Casual Hookups
My sophomore year of college, a frenemy told me I wasn’t taking full advantage of “hookup culture.” I was at a Halloween party dressed as a bottle of wine (with a cork hat and everything). She’s wrong, I told myself. I’m spontaneous! I love meaningless sex! I asked her to pick someone at random from the crowd. She closed her eyes and spun around. When her finger landed on a stranger, I approached him and attempted to flirt. We ended up very publicly making out all night in the middle of the dance floor, as “Mr. Brightside” blared in the background. I was satisfied with my performance until I showed up to my history dissertation group the next week and realized my hypothetical mystery man was actually my very real TA. I did poorly in that class.
7. The Time I Thought I Had a Hit on My Hands
When I was in middle school, I produced a mixtape on GarageBand using pre-recorded acoustic loops. It was titled Dreams & All Those Things and the cover art was a birds-eye view photo of me lying on my bed, seductively staring into the camera. I remember listening to it on my walkman on my way to school and telling myself it sounded amazing, despite the blatantly mismatched tempos and erratic beats. I promptly burned 50 more CDs and passed them out to my peers. Unfortunately, the reviews were not as stellar as my self-delusion. Three weeks later, I stayed at school until closing and attempted to steal back every copy.
8. The Time I Told Myself I Didn’t Love Him
9. The Time I Ignored My Gut & My Sweat Glands
I once convinced myself to give a speech at a charity gala while wearing a backless dress and sticky-boobs, fully knowing that I get the sweats when I’m nervous. The adhesive strips slid down my body midway through, and I followed the audience’s eyes as they watched my chest deflate. I ended up catching the chicken cutlets in between my thighs, where they remained for the remainder of my address.
10. Every Single Time I’ve Used Nair
No, self, this time it won’t work.
What’s the last lie you told yourself?
Feature graphic by Dasha Faires.