People decide that they’ll start some sort of online business. They pull together a marketing plan.
A year later, they’re disappointed. They’ve had a proportionate amount of success to the consistency of their marketing plan–which is to say that the people who super-hustled are seeing moderate success, and they’re going, “For serious? I hustled that hard and I didn’t knock it out of the park?”
And the other thing they’re disappointed about? That they’re not internet famous.
Seriously. Let’s all just cop to this. Secretly, deep down, you’d basically kinda like to be internet famous. You’re not lame or abnormal for seeing the Marie Forleos of the world and thinking, “I want that.” Why aren’t you lame? Because damn, it looks cool.
You wish that you had the hair.
You wish that you had the following.
You wish that your posts went viral.
You wish that you had the connections.
You wish that you had the business.
You wish–c’mon, now!–that your mug was on Instagram next to Tony Robbins, Oprah, and every single Hay House author who might have landed a best-seller.
The Fate of Famous
I first started blogging more than a decade ago. I became a life coach in 2006. I used to think that becoming internet famous was an “if you really work hard” kind of thing.
Now, I think it’s an “if it’s meant to be” kind of thing.
As in, it’s fate. You’re either fated to be it, or you’re not. People try to sell ways to hack the system, and without a doubt the people who the masses wish to emulate understand them.
But really, the fork in the road between famous and “does good work but not famous” is something left up to the stars. It happens for some. It doesn’t, for others.
By the way? People do not like hearing this.
Nonetheless, here it is: I know a lot of great people who do great work–myself included, if I may be so bold. We’re not famous. We are just great people doing our great work.
And here’s the thing about that: it’s all totally fine.
Why Do You Need It?
People think life coaches help you get what you want. That’s only partially true. I, personally, seek to understand and help my clients understand why they want what they want, in the first place. I ask the tough questions, like, “Why do you feel you need it? What are you going to ‘get’ from that? Who will you be, if it happens?”
Questions like that help people get past the bullshit, and to the real shit.
People will tell you all kinds of things about why they feel they need to be internet famous. They want to be of service, they want women to live authentic lives, they have a message that’s important to bring to the world, etc., etc.
I hold the hypothesis that most people want to be internet famous because they want to fill some kind of emotional need.
And since we’re being real, here, I’ll go ahead and drop a little truth bomb right in the middle of this: I used to want to be internet famous. I was completely unaware of this fact. It was expressing itself more as a feeling in my body than a conscious thought. My work could get recognition, but it was never enough because it wasn’t hordes of people. It wasn’t all of the attention and social media shares that I knew the bigger names were getting. I hated that I was “just another life coach.”
Then, one day, it occurred to me that I was equating attention with validation, and internet famous was the ultimate validation. I perked up, kinda went, “Whoa. I didn’t know that about myself.” Then I questioned why I wanted (secretly, by the way) to be internet famous.
What I discovered was that I wanted to be wanted. In my head, hordes of people loving my work would equal feeling like I was truly wanted on this earth, truly needed.
I cried, the day that I discovered this pocket of myself that thought external validation would have her feeling wanted, needed, or having a right to exist.
So what do you do if you recognize yourself in these words? Here’s what I did.
I began cutting away anything that I was doing to try to build my platform that felt like striving.
I hunkered down.
I didn’t create anything for awhile.
I kept revisiting the truth that I’d stumbled upon: I just want to be wanted. I just want to be wanted. I just want to be wanted.
When you realize that there’s a deep pattern at work, a great first step is to get quiet with it. Observe it.
If you don’t work on the real, actual issue, it’ll just replicate itself in different ways in your life, over and over. I understood now, very clearly, that no number of followers was ever going to fill the hole of wanting to be wanted.
With time, with work, and with tools, I stopped needing to be wanted.
I’d still love to have Marie Forleo’s hair (who wouldn’t?), and sometimes when I’m having a crappy couple of weeks, I’ll find myself wistfully imagining how great it would be to have the hordes of people who can’t wait to read, use, buy, or otherwise engage with what I offer, without me even trying, because I was so internet famous.
But most of the time?
It was not fun to spend those years of my life, secretly wanting to be internet famous.
I’m a fan of fun; of pleasure that isn’t even slightly reigned in. I’m a fan of wholeheartedly wanting myself, always and without hesitation.
It’s what I choose, consciously. It feels good.
And if you feel ready to look at why you want to be internet famous and what that’s really about, you can feel good, too.