The Fantasy of Fame

For some inexplicable reason, ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be famous.

There was no specific skill or achievement I wanted to be famous for; I simply wanted to be ‘known’ by people. I figured that somehow, someday, people would know about me, acknowledge me, and shower me with admiration.

It’s pretty embarrassing to admit that, even as a forty-year-old, some of that fantasy still remains inside me. It’s definitely something I keep to myself and (until now) never really admitted publicly.

Honestly, it’s probably the main reason I have always been interested and slightly obsessed with social media. I like the idea that people can see who I am, what I am up to, and know about me. Call it pathetic, but I like the likes. If I am honest, part of me craves the attention.

However, being in lockdown for over eight months this year, something has shifted in my social media habits.

Without realizing it, I have almost stopped posting. Having very little to share about my life in the past eight months, I have made less than ten social media posts and shared even fewer stories.

Somehow, this lack of social media sharing has started to quell my need for recognition or acknowledgment. I am not looking out to the world as often to see if people know who I am or what I am up to. I am forgetting about my fantasy of fame.

Perhaps it is also a casualty of getting older that you simply accept yourself. You don’t need others’ admiration as much, so you don’t actively seek it out.

Observe the behavior of different generations on social media. Those who are younger will typically use social media platforms to share. Whereas older users will be more content to consume. Neither is better; they just come from a different place of intention.

Maybe this is also because life seems more exciting when you are younger. There are many life events to share, such as new relationships, new careers, travels, children, etc. As you age, you are slowly relegated to life’s sidelines, and the desire to share your normalized existence seems to be less appealing.

Which brings me back to my covert desire for fame. I cannot actually pinpoint where my childhood desire came from or where it started. All I know is that for me, it was clearly a fantasy. I made no effort to be exceptional in any way; I just imagined that I somehow already was.

For a child of the 80s, maybe it was an abnormal desire to crave being famous. Perhaps I just had a narcissistic personality disorder even as a child.

But for anyone born into the world of social media, it makes a lot more sense why you would want to be famous. It seems like fame is the golden ticket to fulfillment. More than money, fame is the ultimate form of power in the modern world.

For the vast majority of us on this planet, fame is a fantasy that will remain just that. There is no breakthrough moment when the world suddenly acknowledges our brilliance or importance. We just are who we are, and are most valuable to those whose lives we make an effort to enrich.

This lockdown period – and the resulting lack of social media attention – has taught me that I will not be famous ‘someday.’ I might be recognized at times for achievements or skills, but those will be fleeting moments.

But that also means I am free to live as I want. I am not trapped by a public persona or hounded by the media. I am not expected to be anything to anyone. I don’t have to come up with new and exciting social media posts to try to get attention.

Best of all, I can live my life doing what matters most to me and share it with those I am fortunate to know and love.

For me, fame was always just a fantasy.
As it fades away, I am finally free.

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