I'm not a celebrity by any means, but I was in the limelight occasionally during my running career. The first time I realized that I was a bit on the edge of social anonymity was during my run across America in 2006. It was then that I was asked for my autograph for the first time. During the course of my adventure running career I would sign my autograph hundreds of times, mainly for enthusiastic school kids who wanted something to remember the day when they saw a sweaty runner pushing a jogging stroller of gear stride past their school. No, you won't find my autograph on E-bay for sale. However, you can find Robert Downey, Jr. autographed photos on E-bay for around $50.
My slight brush with momentary 'celebrity' life showed me that being famous and/or a celebrity is not something I want. Being asked for an autograph is just one part of it. There's also moments of people approaching you to get a photograph, or to have you speak to a group at a school, YMCA, or other location. There's always a lot of questions to answer and you often feel like you have to be 'on' even when you feel like turning yourself 'off' to get some rest. On top of all of the running I was doing in my 40's, dealing with the public as I passed through small towns and large cities was often times exhausting.
I retired from extreme endurance running a few years ago, and my name hasn't been in the press for many years. The days of newspaper, television and radio interviews are behind me. My life is far more simple now and I reside in a location where most people have no idea that I ran across states and countries. I was recently reading what some well-known celebrities had to say about being famous, and although I wasn't completely surprised by their thoughts... it was clear that being famous isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Here are just a few examples:
- George Clooney told Esquire magazine that being a celebrity is no walk in the park. "The big house on a hill is isolating. There's no other way to say it. There are restrictions to this kind of fame. I haven’t walked in Central Park for 15 years. I'd like to, you know?"
- Kylie Jenner told Interview magazine that she's constantly feeling anxious about unflattering things showing up in the media. "I wake up every morning with the worst anxiety. I don’t know why. I have, like, a problem. I wake up every morning at, like, seven or eight because I think that there’s a bad story about me, and I have to check. My worst fear is waking up and finding something bad about me on the Internet."
- Johnny Depp said on the Today show that his moves have to be carefully planned. "[Being famous] is a little bit like living like a fugitive. Everything has to be some sort of strategy. To get you into the hotel, to get you out of the hotel, to get you into the restaurant, to get you out of the restaurant."
- Megan Fox used a bully analogy with Esquire magazine to explain how brutal the public's treatment of celebrities can be. “I don’t think people understand. They all think we should shut up and stop complaining because you live in a big house or you drive a Bentley. So your life must be so great. What people don’t realize is that fame, whatever your worst experience in high school, when you were being bullied by those 10 kids in high school, fame is that, but on a global scale, where you’re being bullied by millions of people constantly.”
- Robert Pattinson told Premiere magazine that fame means being bothered constantly. "In L.A., I have at least 40 seconds from the moment I arrive somewhere, before I get asked for my autograph."
- Lady Gaga said on CBS Sunday Morning that as a celebrity you feel like you belong to everyone else. "As soon as I go out into the world, I belong, in a way, to everyone else. It's legal to follow me, it's legal to stalk me at the beach, I can't call the police or ask them to leave. And I took a long hard look at that property line and I said well, you know, if I can't be free out there, I'm going to be free in here [pointing to her heart]. I miss people. I miss, you know, going anywhere and meeting a random person and saying 'Hi' and having a conversation about life. I love people."
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,