So have I.
Whether we picture ourselves as a superstar athlete, actor, model, or artist, the definition of our imagined fame is universal. In this fantasy we’re well-known, well liked, rich, influential, and a number of other desirable traits that accompany the highest levels of success as defined by our society.
While this is an extremely entertaining fantasy, the reality is that we’re living a ‘normal life’ and lumped into the same boat as the other 99.9% of the world. Which, of course, is perfectly fine and isn’t really ‘normal’ at all.
It just seems normal compared to what we see on TV and social media.
The narrow concept of fame as defined by pop culture is limited to an infinitesimal number of people in the world, which would seem to leave the rest of us to idolize the select few who have achieved fame and — on some level — strive to achieve fame ourselves.
Though this concept of fame is attractive for many reasons, trying to actually become famous is nearly impossible. But by no means am I saying it can’t be done or, more realistically, that we shouldn’t strive for greatness in some capacity.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Work to hone your craft, sing your songs, paint your pictures, train your mind and your body, and dedicate yourself to whatever it is you love. But looking at the sheer numbers of it all, the odds of becoming a famous athlete, singer, artist, politician, academic, or actor are hard to reconcile.
On the other hand, it’s becoming clearer with every passing day that technology has given us more access to the fame of others and simultaneously made it easier for us to achieve fame ourselves.
We’re more connected to each other and far reaches of the world than humans ever could have thought possible.
Just a few centuries ago, we didn’t even know certain parts of the world existed and now we’re able to have intimate conversations and share our ideas with people on the other side of vast oceans with a few clicks and keystrokes.
Our reach as individual human beings is infinitely stronger today than it was just 30 years ago, and there’s little doubt that the advances of tomorrow will continue to amplify our ability to reach people on the other side of the earth. Which is why it can be so tempting to pursue fame even in the face of the million-to-one odds we know we’re up against and also why we can lose sight of the people right in front of us.
If we’re being realistic and rational, striving for fame as it’s defined by TV and social media simply isn’t practical.
And while 99.9% of the world has missed their opportunity to play in the Super Bowl or be nominated for an Oscar, we can all still be famous in a slightly different and much more meaningful capacity.
Instead of being famous in the strictest definition of the word, wherein millions of strangers you’ll never meet adore you for reasons that have little to do with the person you actually are, we’re all capable of being famous to the people in our lives. I’m talking about our family, our friends, our co-workers, and the people we interact with every day.
Perhaps it’s not nearly as exciting or lucrative, but the benefits of being famous to the people in our lives is far more important than anything we see on TV or read about on Twitter.
Helping people, inspiring people, challenging people, being a good role model, and doing the right thing probably won’t make you rich but they will certainly make the people in your life rich in ways that have nothing to do with money. And of course, by conducting ourselves in this way, we simultaneously enrich our own lives as well.
There aren’t any cameras.
There won’t be any multi-million dollar endorsement deals with Gatorade or CoverGirl. You won’t have hordes of strangers hanging on your every word or obsessing about what clothes you’re wearing.
We are working towards something much more important; the ability to inspire the people we know in an effort to help them to lead better lives. This is the power that resides within each and every one of us. This is what’s at the heart of being famous to the people we know and helping to lift them up and draw out the best in them, while they simultaneously do the same for us.
No, it’s not glamorous but it might be exactly what each and every one of us needs to live a better, more fulfilling life.
Besides, being stalked by the paparazzi on the way to the grocery store doesn’t sound all that great anyway.
Photo: Christian Haugen/Flickr