It’s fantastic being in the spotlight.
But it also means you’re choosing to be a matador with a red cape in a world full of angry bulls.
Our culture teaches us to want popularity. Most of us seek approval, acceptance, and admiration amongst our peers in order to get it in whatever way is necessary. For most women around the world, physical beauty is where our popularity lies, so we do what we have to in order to find it. Asian cultures bind their feet, African cultures stretch their necks with metal coils and American women starve themselves. For men, their popularity often comes from success as a provider, and they’ll often lie, cheat and steal in order to get it. Even though these actions are extremely detrimental to us, we still choose to partake in them because the results leave us, even with the negative consequences, in a better position overall.
Instinct teaches us that survival is enhanced by being well-liked. If we’re popular with those around us, they’re more likely to help and look positively on situations they otherwise wouldn’t. Take, for example, a woman who’s being abused by her military boyfriend who is suffering from PTSD. Popularity of the culture supporting its military and the other military personnel around could cause the people this woman is around to turn their backs on her cries for help, treat her as though she is to blame, and act as though the situation is acceptable. If the situation was reversed and the woman was the popular person in the relationship, her boyfriend would be classified as the villain and she as the victim who everyone was eager to celebrate and help. If neither was popular, friends and the community would turn their backs and gossip while if both were popular, those same people would reach out to get them both help separately and together while treating them as victims of the system and heroes for surviving it.
Standing out and being in the spotlight isn’t always about being fancied. It can also account to being disliked or different. Celebrity is a game of popularity, so let’s look at Spencer Pratt from The Hills, Jon Gosselin from Kate Plus Eight and Michael Lohan, who is Lindsey Lohan’s father. All of these celebrities have careers based on being disliked and doors open to them because of it. We can’t get enough of Lady Gaga, Russell Brand, Charlie Sheen (although his situation may be attributed to mental illness), Betsey Johnson and countless reality stars because of their eccentricities. It’s true that these people quite often have the most loyal fans, but there’s a yin to every yang and having extreme fans on one side means that there will be extreme haters on the other. Just look at the way conservatives and liberals have always reacted to each other in the political world. The more extreme their views, the more they’re at war.
Celebrities and those that partake in these severe cultural rituals are extreme examples, but it doesn’t take being an extremist to be subjected to popularity games. Often, it comes down to the woman that has the biggest boobs, the man that has the highest title at work, the person who is most feared for being manipulative or someone who chooses to wear flashy suits to the office instead of the monotone colors worn by most. Whatever world we choose to be a part of determines the rules for our game. If we’re in the world of volunteerism, it’s all about who’s a part of the most organizations, is the most giving and sacrifices the most. If it’s a world of feminism it’s about who puts up the best fight against being valued by looks, who’s the most powerful, and who makes the most progress in male-dominated areas. There’s a million different ways the game is played, but at the end of the day it’s really all the same.
Realizing that there’s a game to being in the spotlight isn’t the only complication that needs to be accounted for. There’s a huge flip-side to popularity and standing out that is rarely looked at until we find ourselves in the situation. Being a target means being a target, period. Whether we’re talking about stalkers, a criminal looking for someone to rob, rape or beat up, someone to be made an example out of, or someone to be chosen as the representative for everyone that stands for what they are becomes a part of our reality once we’ve made ourselves a bullseye for others. Our proximity to danger increases and we’re a lot more likely to have bad things happen to us because of it.
Physical danger isn’t the only risk that increases when we find that attention. Our careers, relationships and who we are as a whole can pay a price as well. If we’re great at our job and extremely qualified, we can be held back if those we work with are more interested in our looks or entertainment value than our skills and other abilities. In our personal lives, we can be extremely lonely if no one wants to see past our outer-shell, how we make them feel or what we can do for them. Internally, we can be set up to never develop important personality traits and other skills if we’re lead to believe that all we’re good for is those looks, money or entertainment skills. Once they go, we can be left shallow, superficial and alone. If we build our life in that kind of unreliable house of cards, it only takes one shift of the wind to blow everything down.
Even when aware of the bullseye it puts on our backs, most of us will continue to seek out the spotlight. It’s the being aware and having compassion for those that are already there that can help us all to have a better chance of the acceptance we’re really looking for. After all, dreams and fantasies are grand because they reside in a world of perfection, but the reality of making them come true means answering a whisper from the devil. What chance do we have if we don’t choose to be angel on the other shoulder?
What kind of person are you? How does having or not having the spotlight effect you?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’ve always known who I am. I write, I love the arts, I love people and I love travel. I’m passionate and need to fight for what I believe in. I never had a problem knowing who I am. My battle has been fighting the outside forces that would tell me I am wrong.
There’s only so long we can run from ourselves before surrendering and that’s where I am now. I’ve given into who I am and what I love. That is what you see here.