The cost of being a celebrity

When I was young, I wanted to sing for a rock band and be a big star. As luck would have it, I had no singing voice.

My desire for fame did not end when I grew up. Maybe I could become a famous novelist.

I never wrote the first word of a novel. Nevertheless, I still wanted to be a celebrity.

Then I started reading about how celebrities live. John Lennon approached his home one day and encountered the Grim Reaper in the form of a disturbed man determined to kill someone famous. Fellow Beatle George Harrison heard a noise downstairs one night. He went to investigate and found a madman intent on killing him. George and his wife fought with pokers and lamps and barely escaped death.

Singer Ed Sheeran has not yet been the target of a maniac, but he describes his fame as unfortunate in various ways. He finds that many people want to use and manipulate him. So he has eliminated contact with almost everyone he knows. If he goes outside in London, strangers ask for a photo with him. He then feels like a freak.

Some celebrities have paparazzi who follow them everywhere. These camera-toting voyeurs hide in bushes and use telephoto lens. That kind of attention would wear on me.

Famous comedian Freddie Prinze suicided because of the pressures of trying to stay on top. Famous athletes often have psychological problems after their era of greatness ends.

Writing about celebrities makes me think of a saying: Be careful of what you wish for. You may get it.

A few years ago I changed my goal from wanting to be a celebrity to wanting to be a minor celebrity – someone who is known by name but not appearance.  Someone like the excellent novelist Pat Conroy. I don’t see any maniacs trying to kill him.  If I sat next to him on a plane, I would not recognize him.

I now think that I wanted too much with my goal of becoming a minor celebrity. Life is often not cooperative.

Maybe I don’t need to be even a wee celebrity. I just read Ryan Holiday’s Ego is the Enemy. Holiday says fame feeds the ego but at substantial cost. I concur.

After decades of wanting to be someone, I now see the downside of that status. I also see that fame is not important. It is better to do something important than to be someone important.


[Photo by Start Digital on Unsplash]

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