Recently, my husband, daughter and I went to a local restaurant for dinner on a Saturday night. And as the hostess was showing us to our table, a nearby booth all turned to stare and whisper to each other as we walked by. Raise your hand if that’s happened to you (I see your hand up!). Moments like that almost never really bother me anymore because I have learned over time that reacting to it is mentally draining and doesn’t put you in a good place. People like this don’t know you as a person and they aren’t able to understand the impacts their own behavior has. So in my eyes, nothing about their opinion is worth my time. But a long time ago, I had another realization about these moments that can even make them a lot more FUN and less painful. I can’t tell you when this thought happened or what triggered it, but one day the thought came to me that we are all essentially minor league celebrities and living that stardom life. Hear me out on this one.
About 6 years ago I was in New York City for work, and my co-worker and I were walking down the street following a meeting. It was actually a quiet stretch of sidewalk without many pedestrians, but one woman was walking by and wearing the coolest sunglasses that caught my attention. I was admittedly really scoping the glasses out pretty hardcore (they were red frames with a blue lens and just super funky) when the woman wearing them gave me a major “EHH” irritated kind of look. For the first time I turned my attention to look at the actual person behind the glasses and realized, omg it’s Kirsten Dunst. I swear to you 10,000% that I didn’t even notice it was her until then because I was so intrigued by her awesome sunnies and totally staring them down (not her!). The whole interaction didn’t last that long because it happened in the span of us all passing by each other, but clearly my focused stare irritated her to the point of a reaction in that short amount of time.
I’ve told this story to people before, and a lot of times people respond by saying that she was being a jerk and that the stares come with the price of celebrity. I don’t necessarily share that opinion. She wasn’t on a red carpet and she wasn’t trying to draw attention, she was merely trying to stroll the street and live her life. And even though her annoyed reaction was directed at me, I completely empathized with where she was coming from and what triggered her. Can we all not relate to what she probably felt at that moment in time? How many times have we all wanted to just do our thing—go to the grocery store, out for dinner, or to the gym – without someone staring at us as we walk by? Every single day, right? And obviously that is the treatment that comes along with extreme popularity and celebrity. It’s a big deal for the rest of us to catch a glimpse of someone we see on TV in the actual flesh. Everyone at this level has had to get used to it – it’s something that comes with their chosen profession. And yes, the difference is maybe that they CHOSE to be in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get old for them too. For those of us not well-known, the feeling of people staring at us is uncomfortable and even threatening because we don’t know what behavior will accompany the staring (the comments, the laughs, etc). Psychologists suggest that this feeling of discomfort is because our gut-reaction is to then feel that we are of a lower status and “abnormal.” But for celebs, it’s the opposite! Our society tends to put them in a pedestal and perceive them as being of higher status. So the next time you walk to your table at a restaurant and the booth next to you can’t help but gawk, try pretending that you are your favorite actress or musician. It’s kinda fun!
The Photo Op
Let’s take it a step further. I’m willing to bet a vast majority of us have all been approached at one time or another for a photo op with us. One time I was at a nearby nail salon for a pedicure on my day off. This wasn’t a new place to me, I had gone there several times over the course of a few years, yet for some reason on that particular day my nail tech couldn’t stop talking about how tall I was. She had question after question after question for me, and finally asked if I would be willing to take a photo with her. I won’t lie – I was supremely irritated by this point because this was supposed to be an hour for me to have to myself to relax a little, but she just wouldn’t let me do that. But nonetheless, I agreed and took one with her before sprinting out the door. I’m not sure that I have returned to that salon since because the whole experience from start to finish wasn’t enjoyable at all. I didn’t want to feel like I had to answer 10,000 questions and then pose for a photo that she shared with who knows how many people. I wanted to sit there in my husband’s baggy sweatshirt, read my magazine and breathe. I’m sure Sandra Bullock feels the same way when she sits down to shove a Chipotle burrito in her face and a fan crouches down for a quick photo (my friend saw this happen once!).
If you are like me, then you reallllllly don’t like the times people ask for a photo. But I also think my mind goes to worst case scenario. I automatically assume that these people are requesting a photo because they want to talk about me and my height for years to come, but in actuality it could be because they really admire and love it! As I’ve learned, people are in awe of height and usually assume that we are extremely confident in our skin. Height is associated with all of these wonderful things: beauty, leadership, success, etc., so it’s not obvious to them that it can be a source of insecurity. With that in mind, it’s not all that different than pretending you are a celebrity the next time someone requests a picture next to you!
But wait, I’m not done there! 🙂 THEN there’s the frustrating moments where unknown strangers judge us for our decisions because they don’t follow the alleged rules that they would like to see from us. I’m talking about whether it’s wearing heels, whether it’s dating somebody shorter, or whether it’s the sports we don’t play. We deal with a lot of feedback and a lot of judgment, and let’s call a spade a spade, it’s annoying. Here’s just one example: “Why do you wear heels? Don’t you think you’re intimidating enough?” It’s like, “I’m just over here trying to do me and I don’t remember asking for your opinion.” I can’t imagine what that would be like on the next level –> the level where the said opinions are reported and published for millions to read and see and for the whole wide world to discuss and debate. THAT would be unbearable. So in comparison, our situation is fairly tolerable. Think of the moments where they’ve had unflattering media attention or a public outcry and they forge on. If they can, so can we.
The unfortunate part of all of this is that it can affect how we live. Instead of wearing the heels because you love them and they look amazing with the outfit, we settle for a safer pair of flats to appease the onlookers. But, you know what? Those kinds of people, who say the rude comments, are going to say something anyway, no matter what you do. They aren’t considering our thoughts and opinions for how they live their lives, so why should we consider them when deciding how to live our own? Listen to the voice in your head and what she likes. She’s leading you to your happiness.
Now maybe you think I’m crazy to draw these parallels or maybe you think this is just a post where I’m oddly championing for celebrities to be left alone. But it’s neither of those things. The intent behind this post was to offer another solution for how to deal with the situations in life that we can find most taxing or draining. So many girls and women reach out and ask for help in how to handle these scenarios, and this is just another light-hearted and fun way to think of them. If we are treated like celebrities, why not feel like one! You can’t control how the outside world acts (we are working our tails off to educate them to behave better!) and the only thing that you can control is your own self. It is hard and some days are really hard. But, instead of allowing yourself to feel bad because someone stares at you while walking by, why not pretend that you are your favorite celebrity and the outside world is so excited to have seen you in person! Pretend like you are walking that red carpet, girl, and that everyone is inspired by who you are and the way that you carry yourself! Because the truth of the matter is that someone is watching and inspired by you, likely without you even knowing it. And keep trying your very best to not sweat the small stuff. If it doesn’t impact you for the better, it’s not worth your time and energy. Make like Beyonce and ignore the haters.