I’ve been reading the slightly odd and narcissistic-sounding tweets of a famous musician this week. He’s been tweeting about his own genius and influence and his incredible new music. You probably know who I mean.
I was famous once too…for about 60 minutes.
It was years ago and I was asked at short notice to stand in for a friend on a singing job at the NEC, in front of quite a lot of people.
During the run up, I wasn’t overly worried. I rehearsed faithfully and did the whole ridiculous mimicking-in-front-of-a-mirror-thing. And then on the day itself, I arrived for my sound check and it suddenly hit me how big this actually was. In front of me was the hugest sound system I’d ever seen; techies in crew shirts were running up and down laying cables, sound tests were booming through speakers the size of small houses and I was suddenly very, very scared.
For comfort, I’d brought my friend.We were given a huge backstage dressing room with the faint stickers of Britney Spears’ name still stuck to the door. Yep, Britney had been in here. We posed with hairbrushes in front of the light-infused mirror,we laughed, we prayed, we panicked.
Later, I walked out and stood in my reserved place on the front row, all the while, heart pounding as I considered what was to come. Eventually, my name was announced and up I went, met by a sea of thousands of faces. Pulse pounding, face flushed, but as I stepped on to the stage, in a nanosecond, I got this sense that it’d be ok. I seemed to summon up some weird courage and I thought to myself, ‘I’m GOOD…I’ve got this cracked…’
Later, when I went back to my seat the lady who’d been sitting next to me said, ‘goodness, if I’d known you were famous, I’d have asked for your autograph’.
Afterwards, several people did ask for my autograph and I found myself thinking that I really must be quite good. Obviously this was my moment. Who knew what would follow? Clearly, I was a lot better at this than I’d always thought.
I woke up the next day, went to work, still a little high from yesterday’s glory. On the bus to work, no one recognised me. No one stopped me. No requests for autographs. Didn’t they know who I was?
My ‘high’ slowly oozed away, as it dawned on me I really wasn’t all that – I’d just been given a rare and unusual opportunity. And it made me wonder what it must be like to really be famous?
You’re surrounded by people saying you’re great, admired by people who want to be you, looked up to by thousands, followed on Twitter by multitudes.
And yet when the people who say you’re incredible, are no longer there, what is your identity and confidence actually built on? What’s left? Are you good only because other people say you are?
In the world of celebrity, so much of what people believe and say about themselves…is based on what others say about them. If the reviews are good, the music must be good. If your (paid) publicist says you’re amazing, then you must be.
But when that all fades, the offers dry up and the paparazzi is no longer interested, apart from Celebrity Big Brother (ha), what’s left?
I experienced just a teeny amount of small town ‘fame’ for a few hours and I didn’t like what it did to me. So when I see celebrities tweeting their own praise, I wonder what will be left for them, when the public stops caring?
The admiration of others is a really shaky foundation to build your life and confidence on.