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Seek No Approval: A Brief Tale

Note: This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

He tells stories of visiting foreign lands, meeting celebrities, and selling to crowds.

“I used to own a successful business,” he says. “I thought I’d be a billionaire. But sometimes you can’t fix your mistakes.”

Now he’s approaching middle-age and works in an office. It’s a respectable company, but his position is far from the spotlight he once enjoyed. According to his stories, he used to impress his clients with upscale dinners, tailored suits and a toned physique. Today, he sits slouched in his chair, slightly disheveled, masking the extra pounds he’s gained in oversized clothing.

“I was athletic in my younger days, good-looking, lots of friends. No one likes you when you’re fat.”

He thinks his stories are his most attractive feature, proof that he was once capable of greatness. He tries to impress his co-workers with them every day. He anticipates their rapt expressions, their eagerness for him to tell them more.

But he gets the opposite. His co-workers think he’s full of deceit and exaggerations. They can’t imagine the person they see in him today was ever capable of the accomplishments he claims in his stories. Some have started rolling their eyes and turning their backs to him. Instead of respect, he’s earning disgust.

Disheartened by their reaction, he sinks deeper into his chair. He tells himself he will stop telling stories. But he is at a loss. How else will he gain their approval?