Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Trapped in a Web of Lies
When I got to high school, I thought I was the opposite of shy and innocent until I realized all these kids my age had partied and drank and hooked up during middle school, while I was at home reading Harry Potter. I made a bunch of friends freshman year but not really any super close ones, and I felt a little isolated and lonely. Fast forward to sophomore year, where I got a little more popular, started dating my crush... things were good. Except that I still felt way behind the curve in terms of maturity.
So, literally without considering any consequences, I just made up a whole back story for my life involving an ex, friends I'd "had since I was little" that smoked and partied, etc. I just didn't want to feel out of place in my real life friend group or admit to myself that the person I was with was my first EVERYTHING. I just wanted to be someone who wasn't going through it all for the first time.
This obviously made me feel disgusting and dishonest because it was. And unfortunately it still does, because I haven't been able to drop the lies. I feel trapped because 1. I'm pretty imaginative and good at thinking on my feet, so this backstory has thoroughly convinced my friends, so I'm guessing I'm not gonna get caught any time soon, and 2. My friends mention these people every once in a while, so I can't just pretend I never said anything without seeming very suspicious. It's hard to avoid talking about it and the stories just get more complex every time.
Theoretically the right thing to do would be to tell everyone I've been lying about this stuff, but that's just not gonna happen. I doubt anyone would be like "Wow, thank you so much for finally being honest, I love being friends with you." I've become really close with a lot of these people (I'm a junior now) and the worst part is, I know they're not friends with me because of the lies—our friendships started way before all this. So I literally had no reason to make it all up except to soothe my own insecurity, and now I don't know what to do. I've definitely learned my lesson though.
Currently, I think my options are to never say anything and get a fresh start in college, or I go deeper into the rabbit hole and make up a huge fight with my imaginary friends and refuse to ever speak about them again?
A fake fight? Pfffft. Come on now, Sparkler; if you're going to do away with your imaginary friends, the least you can do is have a little fun with it. Go big or go home! Tell people that one of your pals moved to Antarctica, another was mauled to death by chimpanzees, and the last few ended up in prison after a botched attempt to steal the Declaration of Independence.
...Yeah, okay. Not really. Because alas, as much as I do love a good death-by-chimpanzee story, the last thing your tangled web of lies needs right now is to be augmented with another dozen threads. Instead, my advice to you, starting now, is to begin moving in the direction of honesty—but, and this is a big but, to stop short of anything quite so explosive as revealing the actual truth.
Because you're right, Sparkler: as much as your lying was a totally victimless crime and the kind of thing many, many kids do (albeit not usually quite so... extravagantly), it's also the kind of thing that would probably weird people out if they knew about it. And since they don't need to know about it, and since you yourself have learned the necessary lessons here about why it's a bad idea to fabricate an elaborate backstory instead of confronting your insecurities head-on, you can go ahead and keep the truth to yourself. From now on, stop mentioning your imaginary friends—and if one of your friends does, say something non-specific implying that the friendship has dissolved in the way that old friendships tend to do ("Eh, I don't keep in touch with them anymore,") and then change the subject. (You might want to rehearse that segue at home a few times so that you can pull it off without looking suspiciously like a deer in headlights).
People being how they are, I will bet you a million gajillion dollars that this situation will fall off the radar as soon as you allow it to. Your friends are almost certainly too wrapped up in their own lives to be keeping particularly close tabs on your relationships with a bunch of people they've never met (even if those people existed, which these ones don't). Let the lie fade into the background until it disappears. And the next time you feel insecure about your life so far, use your amazing inventive brain to create a story about being okay with yourself, just as you are.
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