These days, you can see broadcasts of celebrities’ daily lives through platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. At any moment in time, we can glimpse at minutiae like what they eat for breakfast, what they use to wash their faces, or what their bedrooms look like.
When we see them as frequently as we do, we reach a point where we subconsciously blur the line between fantasy and reality. We forget they’re doing their job and putting on a well-liked persona to appeal to the masses. Whatever the rich and famous show us on social media is exactly what they want us to see. None of it is coincidental; their careers depend on it.
I always thought I would keep it cool if I met a celebrity. I knew not to be obnoxious. I wouldn’t try to take a selfie of them while they talked. I would definitely never take a picture of a person without their knowledge while they slept in my bed.
In my early twenties, I had a short-lived fling with a famous actor. I had admired him for years in his role as the sweet, sensitive boyfriend on one of my favorite TV shows. I watched his comedy shows frequently. None of my girlfriends ever thought he was funny, but I didn’t care.
One night, he announced he was doing a surprise show in my city and I immediately jumped at the chance to see him live. “Really, you guys are going to make me go alone?” I asked my friends. They all insisted on staying home, saying, “I don’t think he’s that funny. Besides, maybe you’ll meet him if you go alone.”
I posted something online about needing new friends. He saw it, and we began messaging back and forth. As my friends correctly predicted, I actually ended up meeting him and a few of his friends after the show. I joined him at a pool party the next day, and from there, it seemed we got along pretty well. Over the next year, I traveled with him to a few different cities while he did some shows. As a fan of his, it was exhilarating to me. But his celebrity status had affixed cartoon heart eyes onto my face, painting him as the person I wished he was, like the character he played on TV, and not the real person in front of me, who was anything but that. TV and social media had blurred my line of fantasy and reality.
How could I have known that starting a relationship with my celebrity crush would not be healthy in any way, shape, or form?
In rare moments where he and I would sit and talk alone, I caught glimpses of him as a real, genuinely good person. Maybe it was my heart eyes, but I swear for a moment I actually liked the person in front of me more than the famous actor. At other times, I recognized his bad behavior, like rude comments or lazy efforts to see me, but I always made excuses for him. I felt lucky that he wanted to spend time with me at all.
Silly girl, I think when I look back now. That was exactly how he wanted me to feel. Me and every other girl he was seeing across the country. I was naive, though, and had no precedent for this situation. How could I have known that starting a relationship with my celebrity crush would not be healthy in any way, shape, or form?
I also started to notice the way other people acted around him. We once boarded a flight together, and a man held up the boarding process because he spotted the actor. The passenger refused to keep walking without getting a picture. The man’s selfie outburst was funny at first, but it quickly turned uncomfortable. The fan would not proceed down the aisle, but instead held up the boarding process and berated the actor for denying him a picture. My crush would not agree to the picture, so the fan got really upset and called him names as he walked away to find a seat. All over a selfie.
I couldn’t believe a grown man was throwing a fit over a selfie on a plane. Sure, my crush could’ve agreed to a picture to make him happy, but he shouldn’t have to. He didn’t owe him that. And this man embarrassed himself because he didn’t get his way.
Things like that happened often; people demanded pictures or attention, and when they didn’t get it, they’d act childish and rude. It shocked me to learn that this fan behavior occurred frequently. It shouldn’t have, because my behavior changed when I was around him, too. Everyone wanted to be his friend, and I wanted to be his only girl.
Ultimately, during our relationship, I met someone else and realized I wanted to be in a serious relationship with him. I was done with the celebrity lifestyle. We lost contact, and it ended naturally. When I think about him, I hope he’s doing well. I know now that living a life in the spotlight is not easy.
When it comes to celebrities, we tend to become enamored with the person we think they are, not the person they actually are. We don’t know who they are, and more than likely never will.
This relationship made me want to share experiences with people who are real. People whom I can be myself around. Whatever facade we put on in front of other people is not who we really are.
When we lack confidence, we also tend to seek reassurance from the wrong people.
I know it was human nature and curiosity that led me to say yes to a few things I shouldn’t have, just because this guy was famous. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. It’s easy to succumb to pressure when you want to impress someone and lack self-confidence, or aren’t completely grounded as a person yet. And when we lack confidence, we also tend to seek reassurance from the wrong people.
The most important lesson I learned is that the people in our real lives deserve our adoration more than the celebrity figures we see on social media. My fellow writers here on Medium deserve to have their stories shared on my social media feeds. My friends who are raising families deserve my adoration and support. Friends who sell their art, whose e-books are on sale on Amazon, friends whose businesses could use some promotion — they deserve my money and retweets more than a celebrity does.
I wouldn’t have another casual relationship with a celebrity if given the chance. For one thing, I can’t watch my favorite show anymore. (I’m serious.) The good news is that I came out the other side as a much more mature woman. It was a rare experience I’m sure lots of people will never have, and it allowed me to see that the pedestal on which we place celebrities has serious effects on our mental health.
Meeting a famous person might feel like a larger-than-life opportunity, but they’re real people just like you and me. They are not the character we see them play on TV or on social media. They are a real person, playing a role, performing scripted lines, laughing on cue, and doing their job.
The people in our real lives deserve more support and love from us than rich and famous people ever will.