Everyone tells themselves little lies in order to fall asleep at night. They’re not blatant lies but rather false certainties.
I will apologize and we will be friends again, just like old times.
I may not have gotten that job but I know I will be offered this one. I deserve it more than anyone.
He’s going to come back to me; I can make him want me again.
I’ll work extra hard and make the team next year. This emptiness is temporary, the pain fleeting, and I have a plan to ensure that.
You can imagine what your best friends would say if you ever voiced these thoughts aloud. They’d offer comfort, of course. They’d hug you as you cried. They’d buy a pint of Chunky Monkey and watch Say Anything with you. But then, sure as clockwork, they’d imply you shouldn’t get your hopes up. You would see it in their facial expressions, in the way their eyes glaze over as you tell them, albeit for the twenty-third time today, that you are okay (despite the tears to the contrary), that this problem can and will be fixed with your fool-proof plan. They will bite their bottom lips, open their mouths to speak, then change their minds. You are a lost cause.
But you know they stare at the ceiling fan many nights, talking themselves into similar beliefs. If we didn’t tell ourselves these lies, we might not only be unable to fall asleep but also unable to function in the daylight hours. It’s inherent in human nature to shield ourselves from pain. We don’t let the baseball hurtling toward us at 60 miles an hour smack us in the face. We duck. We cower. We at least try to deflect, at least put up a bare hand to inflict less physical trauma. When we don’t have someone next to us with better reflexes, someone who can effortlessly catch the ball just before it reaches us, we realize that we can protect ourselves on our own.
If we stop promising ourselves it is all going to work out, if we no longer let our naked hand shield us from the coming blow, we are going to walk away with a sizeable bruise, which will fade in time but could possibly leave an indelible mark.
In pre-k, we are taught that lying is bad. It’s right up there next to stealing someone’s Lincoln Logs and hogging the best swing at morning recess. And, about 95% of the time, lying is inarguably immoral. What they don’t teach you in preschool is that sometimes a little white lie, uttered only inside your head while in the dark safety of your own personal hideaway, is necessary to maintain your sanity.
When you get dealt one bad hand, cynics abound. They tell you you’re not good enough. They say you should’ve prepared for this; always prepare for the worst. They say you shouldn’t trust anyone, for people are naturally evil. They stress, above all, to never get your hopes up.
However, these cynics don’t have permission to enter the sacred confines of your mind unless you give them permission. So don’t. Slam the door in the naysayers’ faces, lock them out and throw away the key. Tell yourself those small lies, the false certainties that keep you going, and don’t feel the least bit bad about it.
Then, take it one step further. Believe the lies. After all, your friends caution you not to get your hopes up about the future because life is unpredictable. It’s chaotic and messy and unexpected. That’s what makes the journey so beautiful. Maybe the vision of your life, the one you lay in bed at 2 a.m. imagining so vividly that it feels real, won’t pan out. But maybe it will.
Be kind to yourself. Believe it’s all going to work out the way you wildly and shamelessly entertain in the crevices of your imagination. She could learn to forgive you and become your friend again. One day, you could make that team, get your dream job. He could come back to you.
Stranger things have happened. Life is unpredictable. Hope is never lost.