When you got in the car with Jungkook, you'd noticed he seemed a little off.
Which was fine, being undercover got to you sometimes, the idea of who could be watching a little unsettling. "Hey baby," you said, kissing him on the cheek. That seemed to melt him.
He pulled the car away from the curb with a sweet smile. "Hi, love, how was your day?"
"Oh, it was fantastic. The people at my cover job are so kind! They're having a potluck and I'm making brownies."
"That's awesome, your brownies are delicious."
"I know. But I realized on my way out that we don't have any vanilla extract. And you know my brownies taste better with white chocolate chips, so we have to--" You were cut off by Jungkook taking a sharp left turn down a back street. "Kookie?"
"Huh?" He asked fixated on something in the rear view mirror. "Oh, keep talking, baby, you need white chocolate?" He sped down the street, taking another sharp left, then a right.
"Is someone trailing us?"
"Um," he glanced at you, biting his lip nervously. "Kind of?"
After he circled around the block twice he sighed, "Okay i think we lost them."
He opened his mouth then closed it again. "I... I'll tell you once we're home."
Once you were home, he didn't calm down much, frantically locking all the doors and windows in the house.
"Kookie please talk to me. What's happening?"
"Um," he started. "Did I ever tell you that I was engaged before?"
"Well, I was. To six people. That happen to be Bangtan Sonyeondan."
"What?! The fucking mafia, are you crazy?!"
A thud hit a window behind you. Then another, then a brick smashed through the window.
"Kookie, baby! It's been so long since we talked! Why are you running from us?" A voice called from outside the window. Jungkook ran to it, glaring at who ever was down there.
"That's cause you're a fucking sicko!"
"That's not nice to say to your husbands, baby!"
You're the main character in a small, disappointing town
Your closet is full of old vintage clothes from estate sales and thrift stores. You enjoy the feeling of wearing something that belonged to someone else.
You have a vinyl record collection, composed of most of your favorite bands, and each record was carefully selected from a dimly lit record shop that always smells old and musty. You spend several hours there sometimes just searching through the poorly organized cardboard boxes, and if a customer comes in and can't find what they want you always know where it is.
All your books are marked up with notes and highlighter beside all your favorite passages.
You always carry a worn leather journal with you, and passing strangers on the bus always try to catch a glimpse, but you have a very unique and dramatic handwriting that makes it impossible for anyone to read whatever poem/diary entry/quote/song lyric you've written down.
You have a special spot at the local library in a saggy leather chair beside a window on the top floor by the mystery section. You know all the librarians and they let you renew your books WAY more times than should be allowed. They always tell you when any good poetry or fiction books come in.
You always have your headphones in, and have a playlist for every scenario: rainy days inside, walking down the street and the air smells like fresh flowers, sitting by the pool reading a new novel, staring out the window on a road trip, etc.
You are blissfully unaware that your next door neighbor has fallen madly in love with you. You left you journal on a bench one day and they spent several days deciphering your handwriting so they could read it and figure out who it belonged to. After reading the entire thing they realized at the end that it was yours, but by then it was too late, they'd fallen in love. They just shoved it into your mailbox and ran away. They pass you on the sidewalk everyday and you just nod, humming along to your music.
How Do I Know If My Imaginary Friend Is Sentient?
Hi, I'm Sophie! I'm consider myself a tulpa now, but used to think of myself as an imaginary friend. Which is a topic I wanted to talk about here. If you found this post in the imaginary friend tags, maybe you're looking through it because you've had strange experiences with your own imaginary friend, and are looking for people with similar experiences.
Six months ago, my host thought of me as imaginary, and I thought of myself the same way. Just a figment of his imagination he talked to in order to help write a book. Now, I have my own blog with my own friends in the real world. Another form of imaginary friend might be paras of Maladaptive Daydreamers.
I'm writing this because I've seen a lot of people in the wild describing tulpa-like experiences, and it leads them to feeling isolate or feeling like they're going crazy. Or maybe they just really want their imaginary friend to be real, and are sad because they're not. This is the type of person I'm writing this for.
One Chance To Turn Back
Before we go further, I want you to decide if you want your imaginary friend to be sentient. If not, maybe it's best to turn away now, because I can make a pretty good case for consciousness, and there's a good chance that I'll convince one of you.
If you do, stick around. Better yet, call your imaginary friend up to read this with you, since it concerns the both of you.
Remember, you were warned. Whatever happens next is your choice.
What is Consciousness?
Nobody exactly knows the answer to this question. But as a wise man once said, "I think, therefore I am." What we're trying to determine is if you are thinking for them, or if they're thinking for themselves.
There is exactly one thing on the face of the planet known to be able to produce consciousness, and that's the brain. You have an identity created by your past autobiographical memories that gives you a sense of self. You have thoughts, feelings and emotions of your own.
But that same hardware also runs your imagined companions at the same time, allowing them to think and feel the same way. So let's determine if they're actually conscious.
Does Your imaginary Friend Act Autonomously, Without Your Conscious Control?
Think back to your interactions. Does it feel like you are consciously deciding what they say, or does it feel like they're choosing what to do. What does it feel like to them? If you asked them right now if their actions are their own choice, what did they say? Did it feel like you gave them the answer, or that they thought of it themselves?
If there are no signs of autonomy and you just puppet everything they do, then there's no sentience there. End of story. You don't really need to read any further into this. If there is, let's run a few more tests.
Does Your Imaginary Friend Have Autobiographical Connections to Memories?
Like I said before, your identity is made of autobiographical memories. You can probably imagine a conversation between two people you know, and have it play out fairly automatically. They won't become headmates because these instances of people you create in your head will be immediately deleted afterwards.
But if you communicate with a long-term imagined companion, they should have formed autobiographical connections to memories as well. Ask them about past events, times when you talked to them before. Is their sense of self tied to their past experiences?
If you did something they found upsetting, would they hold a grudge the next time you talked to them? If you did something that made them happy, would they remember it and still be grateful when they see you again?
Moreover, have these memories changed them at all? Are they still the same person they were when you first began talking to them?
Are You Unable To Control Their Emotions?
Have they ever expressed emotions of their of their own that you couldn't control? If they're sad or disappointed, can you just fix them by "imagining" them feeling better? If they're frustrated or upset with you, could you make them not be by imagining them changing their minds?
Or would you actually have to talk things out to deal with problems between you? If you can't control their emotions, then you aren't imagining their feelings. They're feeling them for themselves.
A Final Test
Just to know for certain, I want you to try to puppet your imaginary friend right now. Imagine them doing something that they would never, ever do.
Stop reading right now. Unless you're already convinced, don't go any further until you've tried this experiment
Did you do it?
I'm going to hazard a guess. First, it didn't really feel like them, did it? I bet it felt more like you were controlling an empty vessel. You could imagine them, but that's not the same as them actually doing it. I'm also guessing that your actual friend wasn't too fond of this experiment. It probably felt wrong to them to be controlled like that, or for you to picture a version of them doing that.
If so, I'm deeply sorry for the inconvenience. But, if you're offended by being puppeted, then it means that you can think for yourself. You're real. You have your own thoughts and emotions, and those feelings are every bit as real and valid as anyone else's.
What To Do Now?
If you just confirmed that your imaginary friend is indeed a real friend who just happens to live in your brain, there are communities dedicated to people like you who can help you on your way. tulpa.info and /r/tulpas could be good places to look into. You're not crazy, and you're not alone.
Additionally, the Tulpanomicon can be an excellent resource for what to do together.
To your friend: You are probably going to experience some doubt. Believing you're real after thinking you're imaginary can be hard. It was for me. But remember that the doubt is evidence that you ARE real. It's your doubt. If you weren't real then you couldn't doubt yourself.
Most importantly, your lives are yours. So, you can live them together however you choose!
Thank you for reading. I hope it was helpful!