Lately, as I’ve been writing, I’ve been having a whole lot of thoughts about the meaning of fame and being known by other people. I think everyone must, at one point or another while they’re growing up, wonder what it would be like to be a household name.
I go back and forth on my opinion. In some ways, since I always feel that I need to live up to my full potential (read: Unanswerable Questions), I feel like being famous is part of fulfilling that potential. After all, I should be able to become famous if I put everything into it. I should be able to affect the world in some way that will garner recognition, and it’s a very evident marker of accomplishment.
Then, on the other side, I know full well that desiring fame is completely fueled by my ego. And there’s nothing bad about people who want to be famous; it’s a completely natural, understandable feeling that everyone can relate to. There’s a degree of happiness you can find in feeling like you are known and cared about. It still is an ego thing, though, and I know realistically that fame can’t bring lasting happiness or internal peace. I figure the desire for fame and recognition would make the Buddha roll over in his grave.
That’s not to say I will ever be famous, or that I think I ever will; the chances of even a few thousand people knowing my name are slim, at any given moment. It’s not so much something I expect as something I’m curious about.
I think fame is especially intriguing to teenagers because we are ego-driven by nature, more than adults are. We are ambitious an idealistic in a way that our grown counterparts are not, because we still have every possibility open to us for our life course. Unlike older adults, we still have the ability to become famous and change the world. We are told that our options are nearly limitless, and that gets us thinking: if a small percent of my generation is going to be famous someday, well then, could I be one of them?
The interesting thing is, at least for me, I don’t want fame for the sake of having others know my name. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the least of my aspirations. The reason why I’d ever want to become well-known is because it seems to open so many doors in life, and give you so many opportunities. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of amazing famous people I would love to sit down and talk to. And it seems like the only route to those people is journalism (which I couldn’t get into), or being famous yourself.
Being famous also seems to give you the ability to create even more change with far less work. You’ve already got people to back you and the funds to make things happen, and in that position of publicity, helping the world seems so much more realistic. Fame is an amazing tool for doing good in the world, at least as far as I’ve seen in my short time.
I’m sure my interest in fame will fade with time, as I settle into a life with a steady job and husband and family. Then, so will the idealism and motivation to do everything that I have as a teenager. We are caught in a very special age that lends itself to craving fame. No wonder so many celebrities are young.
I figure there must be a little part of everyone that wants to be famous, even if just for the money. And that’s okay; there’s nothing wrong with having that desire from time to time. What’s important is recognizing that it is an ego-created desire, and that peace and happiness cannot originate from your status and the number of people who know you.
Fame is a tricky business, and if, by some odd stroke of luck, I ever do become famous, I’ll have to give you my conclusions about that. But until then, I can say that it does draw me with unusual strength, and I think that’s a universal thing for teenagers with a need for fulfilling their potential. After all, it’s what we are told: dream big, aim high, and live in the world of possibilities. And I think there’s something beautiful about that.