How to Exaggerate Your Summer (A Primer)


Illustrated by AZ '16
Illustrated by AZ ’16

So, you had a good summer. Not a great summer, but a good one. Maybe you studied abroad. Maybe you got a job and networked like you were born for it, but at the end of the day, when the corporate disillusionment sinks in, you wonder whether you really regret ending your childhood at the tender age of twenty. But it’s September now, and you’re desperate to preserve the charade that you’re an at least halfway interesting human being. Luckily, by following these steps, an unrelentingly average person like you just might get the attention and validation you desperately crave–so listen up.

I. No negatives

Literally nothing regrettable or unenjoyable happened to you this summer. If, hypothetically, something did, spin it into a valuable learning experience. Did you clog a toilet in Istanbul? Talk about international water flow infrastructure. Were you fired when you insulted your boss’s idiotic shoes/belt combination? You braved the corporate machine. Same goes for meals. Your grass-fed Buenos Aires burger was definitely overcooked, but you didn’t truly grasp the plight of the working class until you were done yelling at the chef.

II. Expand your repertoire

Interesting people are also great storytellers, captivating an audience with a well-spun tale. If you can’t do that, hit ’em with sheer numbers. Blow their minds with just how many trips you made to the grocery store (43). And don’t forget details–show, don’t tell, exactly what your coworker sounds like when he eats pulled pork. You’ll have listeners on the edge of their seats if they haven’t already gotten up and left.

III. Provide proof

You took pictures, right? Several hundred? Good. Science has proven that there’s a positive correlation between your social status and the number of photos in your most recent album, and frankly, you don’t want to take the risk of not getting enough likes. Post all your poorly-lit selfies on a cloudy day; post six pictures of the same art exhibit with different angles. Not all meals need to go on Facebook (you don’t want to try too hard, do you?) but keep this rule of thumb in mind: if it cost more than $15 and it’s not on Instagram, you’ve wasted your money. If you visit somewhere (restaurant, tourist site, ancient tomb, etc.) you plan to brag about later, make sure you’ve included at least two propic-worthy shots, or you were basically never there. After all, as God told Michelangelo, “Pics or it didn’t happen.”

IV. Evoke jealousy

Let’s face it: inspiring envy is fun. If you’ve mastered steps I, II, and III, you may have already gotten a taste of how addictive this feeling can be. If not, all you have to do is gain a deep understanding of the innermost wishes and desires of whoever you’re talking to, and then describe in detail how you attained them. Yup, it’s that simple! If you’re hoping to get as much satisfaction as possible, try it on a close friend. Gushing to your roommate about eating crepes under the Eiffel Tower might not be nice, but it’s not your fault she didn’t get into the program, is it?

V. Convince yourself

The line between exaggerating and lying is very thin, especially about uneventful things (like your summer). Your boss did say “You’re one of my most valuable employees,” but you “forget” that he followed it up with “from North Dakota.” Or you went kayaking for an hour; in a week you’ll be telling strangers in a blurry taproom that you sailed across the Atlantic, in a wooden rowboat, in 36 hours, in handcuffs. If fabricating experiences makes you uncomfortable, don’t despair! Just be wary of any memories you’re unsatisfied with. Maybe you did earn the respect and admiration of your peers, but honestly, at this point, who even knows?  When in doubt, keep in mind the words of exaggerator extraordinaire George Costanza: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

— GAW ’16

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