The problem with being famous
As kids, we often dream about being famous and having a platform where we can shine and tell other people what to do with their lives. At least I did, anyway. Being famous means you never have to be the loser kid again, and everybody wants to be your friend.
I'm not the best person to preach about fame, because I'm not super famous. However, having made enough famous friends over the years and catching small glimpses of the lifestyle, I've noticed that a public life can come with some very tough obstacles.
The overlying problem with fame is that it can interfere deeply with your personal life-- even if your personal and public lives are two very different things.
Human beings can be very superficial creatures. We believe what we see first, even if what we see is far from reality. We simply don't have time to dig deep into who people are beyond their exterior; especially not some random we just met for the first time.
To the person who didn't know you before you had a public platform, your media caricature is who you are. They'll judge you based on what you wrote on Twitter that morning, or what your famous boss or friend did or said the other day. As far as they're concerned, no human exists outside of your public identity, even if that public identity is only a tiny fraction of who you are and what you do.
This can cause problems at work, at school, at the market if somebody recognizes you, and anywhere else where you might see people who know your public identity before your personal. For me in Washington, D.C., working at Fox has been a safe haven; it's one of the few places where I don't feel like I'll be constantly punished for my public identity as a conservative writer. (They've got conservative writers there who are way, way more public.)
And the problems don't end with people you just met.
When you're famous, real-life acquaintances may fear that they might come second to your public life. Their fears may be valid-- you might get a lot of notifications, calls, emails, and text messages all day, and still not know how to prioritize them. Their text message might be in your inbox for days, or weeks, before you respond. These people may get angry, perhaps even furious.
You might try to explain the situation to them: "You know, I'm really not ignoring you. I swear. I'm just receiving a lot of calls right now, and that's why it's taking me longer to get back to you."
To your disappointment, explaining makes things worse.
"What, you think you're famous now? You think you're special; that because you get so many calls and notifications on your phone, you're somehow exempt from being a decent friend and answering my call? Get over yourself. Life is larger than you."
They're not wrong. You aren't special for being famous. You aren't more important than they are. You don't have more value than they do. You may not even have more money or beauty or brains than they do. The only difference between you and them is that more people know you exist... which can be pretty damn draining.
This can happen with family members, close friends, the person you're dating, regular acquaintances, and even people you met once or twice. And it becomes a cycle: the more they project their fears on you, the more you turn to your audience or career for comfort, the more valid their fears become.
Here's another part of being famous: everything you are when you're not famous gets amplified times a hundred when you're famous.
Have you accepted yourself yet; your full self? Because whatever you are at the time of your becoming famous, that's how everybody will remember you. Before pursuing fame, you've gotta be okay with yourself; your relationship with others, your personal identity, how you look, how you talk/act, and how you think. Public ridicule has no mercy.
The funny part is, a lot of people who pursue fame when they're younger are actually not okay with their full selves. We often want fame, thinking that we'll receive more love and approval that way. But it's not necessarily true. Fame only amplifies what you have now. If you have two people who love you and one person who hates you now, when you're famous you'll have two hundred people who love you and one hundred people who hate you. Unless you really somehow changed things up in the meantime.
If you're the kind of person who doesn't care what people think, then all is golden. But chances are, if you're the kind of person who wanted to be famous, you were also the kind of person who worried a lot about what other people thought. And that is really going to work against you when you've got a third of the people who know you hating your guts. (Especially when they send you death threats and you don't have the means to protect yourself. But that's another topic.)
Here's the good news: a lot of fame-related problems stop being problems when you stop caring. Famous or not famous; once you accept yourself fully for who you are, nothing anybody else thinks matters anymore. All you need is the right platform to be yourself and gun to help you sleep at night.
But you didn't need fame to teach you that, did you?
P.S.-- Of course, there are perks to being famous. Huge perks, in fact, if you know how to properly capitalize on them. Just think of the Kardashians. They are riding heavenly coattails because of their acquired fame. But without the right support or knowledge, getting access to these perks can be a massive struggle. Perhaps I'll write about that in another post, when I crack the Kardashian code. Maybe I'll call it, "The perks with being famous."