Fame: One Helluva Drug
"Son—how come you talk so much ‘bout money?”
“Because it is life, Mama!”
“So now it’s life? Once upon a time freedom used to be life—now it’s money. I guess the world really do change…”
One of my favorite exchanges from "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry, Lena and her world-weary son Walter contend what’s more, as he is grappling with his dream versus his reality. While the piece was written over 50 years ago, the story still rings strong-- the struggle of money, recognition, and self-worth.
As artists, we are constantly aligning our worth with recognition and our value with money. We rag ourselves when our Instagram falls short on likes. We’re mad when people don’t acknowledge our latest song or design or monologue the way we feel it should be. We are longing for fame.
We say that if it hasn’t happened yet, it won’t happen. It is fame. Fame is not the same as success. Fame is addictive—a byproduct of our artistic work. Think of it as the “How am I doing?” syndrome. It asks, “How does it look to them?”
We ask ourselves the wrong questions. We ask ourselves the wrong questions and get the wrong answers.
I once read, “Wanting more [fame] will always snap at our heels, discredit our accomplishments, and erode our joy at another’s accomplishment.” This longing will literally take the breath and life out of a moment. The pride you had when you posted a clip of your latest masterpiece diminished because you “only” got 11 likes.
Another element of fame is envy. Are we wallowing in unhealthy envy? Competition is a drug. When we ogle the accomplishments of others, we take our eye away from our own.
The desire to be better than can choke out our desire to just be or be better. We talk about fulfilling our dream, but what does your dream have to do with fame? Your dream is to paint or dance or sing. What if you get to do this every day, but not be famous? Is this a dream come true? What happens when we stop making fame the end all? We need to be asking ourselves these real questions.
Fame is a shortcut for self-approval. Detoxify from the fame drug.
“I guess the world really do change…”