Why do people lie about themselves? Why does anyone think they have to embellish an already accomplished life by making up stories?
I'm thinking about Brian Williams, the formerly respected NBC News anchorman, who lied about having been in a helicopter under attack in a war zone when he had not. Many of his other reporting stories have now come into question. His senseless lies have negated his life's work. "All journalists lie," a friend who should know told me.
As a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton claimed to have landed in an area under enemy fire when videos definitively proved she had not. As in Williams' case, it was explained away as a faulty memory.
Then there is Vice President Joe Biden, who makes occasional forays into story land, most recently when he claimed to know Somali cabdrivers in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, when in fact there are none. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this embellishment and say he confused Ethiopians or Pakistanis for Somalis.
I'm treading into controversial territory when I bring up Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal portrayed in American Sniper. Apparently he killed 160 of the enemy during four tours in Iraq, making him the deadliest sniper in US history. He was a warrior's warrior. He was called "The Legend" by his fellow Seals. When he returned to the USA, he continued to feed that reputation by telling unverifiable stories about taking out bad guys in Texas. However, his claim of beating up Jesse Ventura was verifiably a lie. Ventura sued and won a huge financial settlement. The question arises: did Kyle lie about what happened in Iraq as well?
When I was a freshman in high school, I knew a girl who lied constantly about things that were easily refutable. She claimed her father was a psychiatrist. He wasn't. She told people she lived in a better neighborhood than she did. She lied about her grades. She presented her family as a perfect one, when I knew she had to deal with many problems, including a father who drank too much. We were both army brats so we lost touch, but I have often wondered how life turned out for her. She clearly disliked herself and her life. She lied to create the person she wanted to be.
Maybe that is the answer to why people lie about themselves. They aren't satisfied with who they are or what they have legitimately achieved, or haven't, in life. Maybe lying makes them like themselves more. Perhaps they don't even realize they are doing it anymore. Their lies, or embellishments to the truth, have become their reality.
To lighten up a bit: I've often lied about my height and weight. I would like to be taller and slimmer, but no amount of lying about it has made it my reality.