“Glory is like a circle in the water, which never ceaseth to enlarge itself, till, by broad spreading, it disperse to naught.” – Shakespeare
I have never been famous. Probably will never be. So I can’t possibly pretend to know exactly how famous people think or exactly what their realities actually are.
That being said, I have seen, read about, interacted and worked with famous people and I do know that there’s something about being known and being adored and almost hated in equal measure by hundreds of thousands of people that affects the way you see the world, the way you see people and the way you see yourself.
Fame changes you they say. I think not.
While being famous can elevate your lifestyle, give you new friends and put you in a position of privilege; at the core of who you really are, you’re still the same person. Your core values, principles, fears, insecurities and pain (all elements that influence your behaviour) are still very much in there.
Here’s the kicker; being famous amplifies them. It is one of the downsides of extreme visibility. When you fail , you fail publicly.
Can fame “get into your head”? Is there anything like getting carried away by praise and adoration that you lose yourself?
Shakespeare said “Fame lulls the fever of the soul, and makes Us feel that we have grasp’d an immortality.”
I suppose there’s a sense of invincibility that comes with the visibility, the public adoration and the privilege of being considered special. It can be intoxicating but it will be a great error in judgement to consider oneself immortal or untouchable because of the transient applause of people who can and will change their minds whenever they like.
So how to be famous?
Never forget that you’re human. It doesn’t matter what they call you: god, diety, superstar, whatever… they’re lying to you. You’re a mortal human with numbered days like the rest of the human race.
When you’re faced with the evidence of your humanity; your failings, accept it and do the work to be a better human.
Understand that your fame is a responsibility now. Whether you like it or not, society has elevated you on a pedestal and a certain standard of decency is required. No one is asking you to be perfect, all that is expected is that you do the best you can to show the rest of us ordinary people something to aspire to.
Sensitivity and empathy are values that if you didn’t have before, you’re going to have to learn and develop.
“True empathy requires that you step outside your own emotions to view things entirely from the perspective of the other person.”
Practically, this means when people are expressing their pain, anger, frustration at an unfair system of injustice or inequality, that is not your time to center yourself in the conversation by dismissing their pain to hone in on a perceived slight.
It means being humble enough to listen. It means being mature enough to know when to say nothing and when to lend your voice. It means caring enough to do something to help.
It means understanding the power you wield and the importance of the platform you’ve been given and being willing to use it for the good of the humanity that gave them to you in the first place.
Fame is a trojan horse that you have to carefully handle because right in the middle of what appears to be a beautiful gift, infamy can emerge.