Like many young kids, I always dreamed of fortune and fame; to be in the public eye, to be adored and appreciated by everyone and to be in the spotlight. Why wouldn’t you want that?
For as long as I’ve known, that has always been painted out to young people as the thing to aspire to; celebrity life and fortune and fame. This idea that being rich and famous will bring constant joy and happiness, glamour and success to your life. Newspapers, the media, public gossip; the 2000’s kid especially have been propelled into a storm of public controversy, gossip, administration and comparison.
The last two years for me has been a whirlwind, in every sense of the word. My “dreams” were becoming a reality when my Instagram exploded in 2018. Huge amounts of attention, fancy parties, free gifts, feeling popular and wanted and riding what appeared to be an endless high. Getting recognised in London, Milan, Los Angeles; on the tube and down the street. Being able to post a photo on the internet and get paid was for is still a bit of a myth to me, and odd to come to terms with, especially when I’ve lived under the roof of a man and a woman who actually have to put in the hours and the effort into difficult, not to exciting jobs. But I’m not in a position to complain, I’m in a very privileged position.
However, I’ve realised that this endless high wasn’t the case; these material things and bouts of attention bring a short term kick, and not a sustainable happiness. And while my material wealth and ego has been growing, my spiritual wealth has been diminishing. A lack of real meaning and purpose has grown, and disconnection from reality - I’ve often become distracted.
You cannot have constant happiness; you only get happy moments because you have down moments to compare to. The way that Instagram is educating young people that you should be happy all the time is creating more problems then solutions, and needs to be addressed by the big companies; because the truth is, the sweet is never as sweet without the bitter.
Jim Carey said “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”. Now I haven’t reached a point of life changing and noticeable fame, but I have been around people who have; and it really isn’t all that it promises to be.
You can have all the money, the clothes, the cars and the attention, but the truth is, the most important thing that you need is connection. No one needs fake friends, or to be seen to be doing something. What we need is friendships, and meaningful relationships.
I’ve often become so consumed and occupied with keeping up an image, cashing in my chips for the way that I look, chasing material things and “appearing” successful that I’ve often neglected the things, and the people that truly matter to me. My ego has often become greedy, and has blinded me for what is important; and what is often good for me.
I’ve realised the harsh way, but at least I’m learning at 20, and not at 40. I want real friendship, genuine relationships and actual Human connection. It’s time we start speaking the truth. To educate young people what is actually important in this world, as genuine human beings - and not superficial ideologies to aspire to.
And yet, although financial freedom can be liberating, fulfilling and can give me the opportunity to put a roof over others heads like my parents have for me, its never been something I've been motivated by, or aspired to gain over everything. An interesting watch was Dan Bilzarian on the Joe Rogan podcast show; a man who has everything money can buy, and has every experience under his belt. He says that money cannot buy happiness because nothing is ever good enough; you get lost in a whirlpool of want and greed because you continually chase more to try and fulfil that high, until there Is no more to chase. A short term bout of happiness, but it is unfulfilling for the future.
You see the funny thing is, I’ve written this the morning after watching Jerry Maguire. Jerry is a sports agent, who is killing the game; everyone wants to be a part of his team, to have him on their side, and to work with this man. And although Jerry appears to have his shit together, he’s far from it. His ego is huge, his relationships are unfulfilling and he is led astray by want and greed; he is motivated by money, attention and being seen.
The lesson I took from Jerry Maguire is its not about how much, but how you value. He first neglects Rod Tidwell - a main character, but originally not seen to be important in the sports world - but then realised that by putting in lots of effort into one person, and one relationship - he gains real fulfilment, and purpose.
I would rather have 5 incredibly close, meaningful friendships then have 1000 people to know. Luckily, I do have lots of friends, but my perception has often been poor; instead of being grateful, I’ve often wanted more. In the fame game, being seen with people is often what people show as friendships, when it’s often for just the publicity benefit. An approach like this is always wrong.
I will never forget turning down an invitation to a Louis Vuitton event in London, to go to a weekly sports night back at Manchester University. My friends couldn't understand why - because of the appeal of such a fancy event. But the truth is, the real kick would have been being able to be me, true and happy around my friends, over rubbing shoulders with others and pretending to be someone I'm not. Although you should grab every opportunity with both hands, especially If its a business/networking opportunity, you should also decide to do whats best for you - and that's often being true to yourself.
People need to connect with people; not thumbs behind a screen. We want to create relationships with honest people, not fake beings. Be genuine and be yourself. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, keeping everyone happy, and not objecting to someone’s opinions, then you’re doing it wrong.
What makes us feel unfulfilled are meaningless flings, material want, trying to please everyone you know and chasing fame. What’s actually fulfilling, and internally rich, is being there for others, having them there for you, for your family, for your friends, for your dog and for real relationships. To feel present and to feel connection.
Write down your values, appreciate what’s good about you; be true to yourself and stick by your real mates. It’s so easy to be influenced now, or to have your opinion swayed. Get your inner circle right, and put in the time for real people.
My perception needs work. Lots of work. No ones perfect. But by giving you an insight into my experience, I hope it helps change yours for the better - or at least give you some understanding. I’m in a very privileged position, I’m grateful and so I can’t complain - and even though writing this article, I think there probably is still an excited young lad who still wouldn’t mind a life of constant attention, circus and celebrity and is excited at the prospect. But there are better, more fulfilling things to chase then fortune and fame.
And remember: The things you really want in life, don’t often happen when you’re looking for it. So be wise in what you chase.