About two years ago, I began my freshman year in almost complete anonymity. It was a scary, tumultuous time during which I had absolutely no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. But it was also totally exciting. The world was my oyster, it was a new beginning, a fresh start, *insert another cliché about new beginnings here.*
So I arrived fresh off of my wilderness pre-orientation with a goal: I wanted to “find out who I was.” I wanted to try new things. I wanted to be that cool gal that was funny, outgoing, goofy, quirky, and unabashedly herself!
But after a while that got kind of boring, because every single interaction I had during orientation consisted of about three topics: “What’s your name, what are you thinking of majoring in, where are you living?”
How the hell was freshman me supposed to go on a magical journey of self-discovery with these generic questions?
So after much contemplation with my *inner self,* I came up with a plan to add a lil’ spice to my O-Week—I was going to convince everyone that I was a famous tennis player.
Because what better way to start anew and build long-lasting friendships than to completely lie to everyone you meet?
The plan was simple: I would begin a conversation with somebody, wait until a lull in the interaction, and then work tennis into the conversation. The tough part was making the transition seem natural. It had to be perfect, subtle, and engaging or else the entire conversation would be derailed. It usually went something like this: (note, all the following names have been slightly altered to protect participants’ anonymity).
Marcus: Hi! I’m Marcus, what’s your name?
Me Esther: I’m Kate Hirsch, the famous tennis player.
The conversation would just naturally flow from there.
Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, this sounds like an incredibly believable system with absolutely no loopholes at all,” then you would be correct.
It was shocking how many people believed my story. Turns out freshmen during O-week are pretty gullible—and also don’t know how to use Google.
Gullibility of malleable and innocent freshman aside, my conversations became infinitely more enjoyable once “Kate Hirsch the Famous Tennis Player” entered the game. She had such an interesting and slightly tragic back story (she had a real chance of going pro, but at age 18 suffered a life-shattering ACL injury that crushed her dreams of becoming a star), that I felt really engaged my audience.
Soon, I recruited new friends and members of my wilder-family to assist with my scheme. Once they were briefed and in the know about my *true identity,* they began to introduce me to others as ‘Kate Hirsch the Famous Tennis Player.’ Things began to escalate quickly— it even got to the point where I would tell someone my name was Kate Hirsch and they would echo back, “Oh, the famous tennis player, right?”
I was living a lie but had never felt closer to my true self.
If this was an advice column (which it is not), I would probably say this: lying is fun! It’s something everyone should try at least once in their life, kind of like going to a party at the lacrosse house—well, maybe.
But for real, I believe great things can happen when you don’t take yourself too seriously. It puts a lot of big (and sometimes pretty stressful) things like grades, internships, and romantic relationships into perspective, and makes your days more fun. I’ve been trying to live my life that way ever since that first week of freshman year. I think it’s been working out pretty well for me.
So if you’re a freshman looking to find your place in the world, or just an upper classman wanting to try something new, just do what I did. Tell everyone you’re a famous tennis player. It’ll usually work out.
Art by Nina Hofkosh-Hulbert