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{10/04/2012}   Upgrading the truth: from childhood achievements to CVs

It would appear that I am becoming more cynical. I think in part this is because I realise that not only have I rose tinted certain events or periods in my life, I have bigged some things up, whether in conversation or on my CV. So I guess I assume other people do the same thing.

Not so long ago I heard myself telling a relative stranger I was going to be a professional tennis player when I was younger but I just hadn’t been commited enough to the training. I think I blurted it out without considering he might be interested enough to quiz me on it. I excused myself before I could get myself in deeper lying water by bringing my Annabel Croft “connection” into it (I know, I know, not a hugely successful tennis player but my dad did meet her and got me a signed poster – see, I could’ve drowned in the deep water of lies about our playing tennis together, etc, a massive leap from the truth!) The reality was I did a tennis summer school while I was about 11 and I was unexpectedly proficient so the coach had offered to give me extra coaching. He phoned my parents quite a few times to convince them to convince me to do it but I was painfully shy and not remotely enthusiastic about the prospect of being singled out so it never happened.

Likewise, there are people in this world who think I used to do high jump for my county. In reality, I was good at it but I was so nervous during the county selection trials that I couldn’t even do the warm up jumps and was so horribly embarrassed at not even jumping the first jump that I don’t recall ever doing high jump again.

I sometimes think these exaggerations, which usually develop while under the influence of alcohol and/or socialising with over-achievers, are purely to make you sound like a more interesting, skilled and rounded character. My problem, I now realise, is that I can’t go beyond a slight exaggeration because I am rubbish at lying convincingly with authority. A little exaggeration is probably fine, there’s just a danger of ending up out and out lying then getting rumbled, usually by a friend who overhears and utters the death knell of, “yeah, right”, without realising you’re in the throws of trying to impress someone and are now reduced to looking like a bit of an idiot. I have so been rumbled like that before and it’s not pretty, especially if you’re trying to woo or impress.

But is it ok on a CV for example? I decided to update mine about a year ago; you’d be impressed, perhaps a little surprised, by some of my skills and achievements, but if I shuffled the chronology and collated all one-off (some maybe two-off!) experiences, it’s certainly not fabricated.

I mean, if photoshopping celebrities in magazines is acceptable, surely tweaking my skills and experiences to make me more appealing is perfectly ok. I quite like the idea of “upgrading” the truth! I expect one day my childhood experience of winning a story competition to watch jousting will be upgraded, in over-achieving company, to, “Oh yes, I used to joust, it was most thrilling”!

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You are not alone, everyone does this on CVs and with memories. Funny incidents get tweaked and made funnier/more melodramatic with each telling. Me pranging a hire car on a narrow street in the Albacin (spelling?) in Grenada was re-told this weekend and has gone from one or two locals commenting/gesticulating to a whole crowd appearing with pitch forks and flaming torches. I exaggerate the exaggeration, but there you have it; the more drama, the funnier the anecdote.



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