Living Between the Lines

I don’t want to be Famous

I opened the Times newspaper the other day, glossed over the first few pages given over to latest world events and looked beyond.

My attention was actually caught by a short article on page 19, entitled,

“What do today’s youngsters want to be? Just happy.” (Joanna Sugden – The Times)

I suspect that if you asked any age group to truly declare their deepest wants then their answers might be the same. Don’t we all prize happiness above all else?

A survey was apparently carried out to extract this gem of information. Here are a few statistics to mull over:

Apparently 33% of girls aged between 8 and 16 years, told The National Literacy Trust that when they grow up they just want to be happy. Only 3.5% claimed they aspire to achieve celebrity status. 5.1 % of boys crave celebrity status, the rest saw being a good citizen, being happy and earning lots of money as their aim.

That’s good isn’t it? Our youngsters have their feet screwed firmly to the ground. Their ambitions remain intact but they are not necessarily craving the glitter and glamour of supposed ‘Celebrity-dom’.

Happiness, by definition, implies good health and contentment with one’s lot. I suppose it could be argued that becoming a celebrity might be seen as a stage of this happiness and rightly or wrongly, some might aspire to it for that reason.

Rather than getting me embroiled in the rights or wrongs of ‘celebrity’ as a state, the article got me thinking about my own early hopes and dreams. Have I achieved any of them? Did I value happiness above all else? The answer is of course that yes, I have always valued happiness, health and family above all else but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had and achieved, other ambitions.

I have always aspired to be a good writer, to get published, to be well known in that field.  However, do I want to be famous – do I want to reach celebrity status?

Not really.

Fame and fortune appeal only in the vaguest forms. Yes, I would love to have a best seller under my belt and I would love my name to be bandied about in Literacy circles across the country but do I want to be recognised as I walk down the street?  Do I want to be invited on chat shows and to have to handle all the publicity that writing a best seller might entail?

I don’t think so.

One of the biggest attractions of writing is that it can be done alone, without interruptions, without interference. One doesn’t have to dress up, put on a face or dodge the photographers waiting at the stage door. Indeed, one can write in bed, in the bath – just about anywhere. I doubt I would be so drawn to it if the act required the constant press coverage and media attention that other professions might entail.

Mind you, exactly what is a celebrity these days? Judging from ‘Big Brother ‘and ‘I’m a Celebrity get me Out of Here’ the status can be applied to just about anyone who has ever appeared in the press. Thus Footballers’ Wives and Girlfriends (WAGS), Politician’s Official Partners and Lovers (POPLs)can all claim the title. Pop stars can claim it. Even the people who present the pop stars on TV can claim it.

Wikipedia says: A celebrity, also referred to as a celeb in popular culture, is a person who has a prominent profile in the media and is easily recognised. Celebrity status might be associated with certain professions and frequent appearances in the media. It can arise as a result of career planning but it can also arise by accident or as a result of infamy.

Woah! Infamy? The opposite of fame?

Hmm, so being notorious (The Great Train Robbers spring to mind) brings its own type of celebrity status.

Presumably, most who would hunger for Celebrity status would also hunger for money and a certain lifestyle but this is not a pre-given it seems.

Being a celebrity gets one into places, gets that table that no one else can book. Being a celebrity means that as you walk down the street, perfect strangers ask for your autograph or whisper about you as you pass. Being a celebrity can be a transient thing – this month’s flavour may not be the next. Being a celebrity is probably fine if you are in the mood for it. It must be a terrible burden when you are not.

So, I don’t think I will aim for celebrity status. If anyone asks me, I shall say that I too, just want to be happy.

I don’t want to be famous …

…but I suppose it would be nice to be remembered for something long after I have gone!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Andrea Carlisle

    It’s interesting that now children have to think about this, isn’t it? When we were children, the question didn’t arise, nor did the desire, at least not where I came from. My favorite quote about being famous comes from, of all people, Britney Spears. She said, “Being famous is just a job.”

    • Deborah Barker

      I agree Andrea, no one asked me if I wanted to be famous when I was at school, it was, “teacher, doctor or hairdresser?” (Or something like that) Nor did they ask if I wanted to be a writer come to think of it…

  • Patricia

    I wanted to be a singer like Julie Andrews when I was young and I was disappointed not to achieve some kind of status in that department – more so because I felt it was my best way to share my gifts with others and for the great joy it brought me to sing. ( I did get throat tumors like JA! and now can not sing!)

    I do not think that I want to be famous – contented would be lovely and not a burden to my children. Right now being healthy and debt free seems extremely high on the list.

    I just read a post on Facebook about the 60 bloggers one should read…and I knew many of them and maybe I would love to have that kind of influence …I felt myself feel so proud of the folks I knew being included on the list – I did a little happy dance. I just think it is all going to turn out for the best…

    Happy, contented and healthy – enjoying my days right to the end…

    I am going to stop messing up with Me and I in speaking( a habit I developed to irritate my mother when I was a teen, and it now irritates me)
    I am going to stop complaining
    I am going to be the best I can be everyday and work on being present.

    I also would like to earn a living wage and get debt free – just to prove to myself that I can achieve this…plenty of goals and dreams, which might make me famous?

  • Hilary

    Hi Deborah .. I’m surprised it’s so many seeking happiness .. I’d have thought celebrity and being famous were more desirous to kids – but glad I appear to be wrong … I suppose it depends on the survey question.

    Fortunately kids turn out just the way we’d like them to be -usually … and as with most people are happy to accept their lot and make the best of of everything.

    I’d like to be good at what I do .. and be respected for that, have great family and friends and live a full life .. which is why we’re here … respecting all around us .. humans and life in all forms.

    I certainly don’t want to be famous – definitely not that! Cheers – have a good weekend .. sun finally appearing here!! Hilary

  • John Cowton

    I think that being famous means that you have to live up to a public image of yourself, mindful of what you say and how you behave and boy, do the press love it when you don’t. You’re right Deborah. We live in a society where happiness is only measured by material wealth.
    The best things in life are really are free. The great outdoors has lots to offer seekers of happiness. Family health and love. This sounds a bit Waltonesque, and maybe just an ideal, but it’s surely a better ideal to strive towards than the glitter of fame and fortune.

  • Deb

    You’ve stated here pretty much what I feel about being a published author. I want to create something that matters, and I’d love to be known for that, and perhaps even to be sought out as a teacher because of that. But I’d still also really like to enjoy the solitude of my life in the country.

    Another terrific wandering reflection, Deb!

  • Katie Gates

    It’s such an interesting (and loaded!) topic. Leads to the statement, “be careful what you wish for.” I’ve never had a plan, and I certainly didn’t when I was a kid. As an adult, I’ve acknowledged that my path has been guided less by what I want to do than by what I know I DON’T want to do. By avoiding the activities/situations that don’t work for me, I’ve landed in those that do. I’d love to get published through traditional channels, and I’d be happy to be familiar to people as a result, but I also will always guard my privacy and my need for solitude.

    • Deborah Barker

      Hi Katie, maybe that’s how all writers feel eh? We are a solitary bunch really. I have been published through traditional channels but if you remember my post ‘An Audience with Grace’ it seems my readers were none the wiser LOL!

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