I’m going to get a little ranty for a bit, which is something I don’t like to do, but I feel like I need to clear some air on the matter of my (lack of) fame.
I get asked this question, or a variation on it, more than you might think.
I understand that people mean it as a compliment, as in, you are so good, I wish that everyone knew about you! and so when people ask that, I always thank them for saying so, because I know their intention. It’s very, very sweet and the people who say it usually are, too.
But, on the way home from the show, I think about it. And it always strikes me as a funny question.
First of all, how am I expected to answer it? I mean, of course people can’t think I know the exact reasons why I’m not famous. If I did, wouldn’t I have followed the necessary steps to become famous? I know that being famous seems easy these days because of things like American Idol and cases like Justin Bieber (and that new kid who was just discovered on YouTube) but for most people, it’s not simply a matter of posting a video online and waiting for Ellen to call you. Though I would welcome a call from Ellen, personally. She’s hilarious. You hear that, Ellen? I’ve got my cell on.
Secondly, why do people assume that fame is the ultimate reward? Why has our culture trained us to believe that famous = good ? Looking at the celebrities we have these days, very few are people I would consider good or worthy of being role models from a distance. I say from a distance because I don’t know any of those people — I only know what media outlets want me to know about them, which is far different from being their personal friend. Which brings me to another point…
Almost nothing about being famous sounds appealing to me. Cameras following me everywhere, strangers analyzing my diet, my appearance, my style choices, my dating choices…I am supposed to want this?
Perhaps people feel that getting famous for doing something is a validation, that it gives them permission to continue doing it. I am not waiting for permission from someone else (or a lot of someone elses) to do what I want to do. I don’t need a record label or talk show host or reality judge to tell me that what I am doing is ok for me to do.
Here’s the thing: I do want to be well known and well-loved, but I’d also like that to be on my terms. I’d like to entertain and inspire lots of people. I’d like to be able to continue having conversations and connecting with people on a personal level. I’d like enough money to live a lifestyle I’m delighted by and to free up more time to do the work I feel I’m here to do. Some of that fits with the current model of “fame” in our culture, but a lot of it doesn’t.
So here’s my short answer. I’m not famous because the money would be great, but I’d like to be able to go to the grocery store in my jogging pants whenever I felt like it.
[edit: Immediately after I posted this, @bellisimagoddes on Twitter posted her quote of the day, which I think is perfect, so I'm adding it!]
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” — Joseph Campbell