For quite some time now, I’ve had this certain belief that may come across as slightly loony to some. You see, I believe that everyone is, deep down, a star. (As in a celebrity). Yes, that’s right. I believe everyone’s a celebrity in divine disguise. The vast majority don’t realize it, but it’s true.
I had always wanted to write an essay about this, but I was finally galvanized into doing so while recently listening to Lady GaGa’s newest single, “Born This Way.” I tell you, this is no pop song. It’s a channeled transcription from Divinity. It is the sound of a soul claiming the destiny it was born into a human body to fulfill: that of inspiring people to claim their birthright as stars in their own right.
“My Mama told me when I was young / We are all born superstars,” the song begins. The moment I heard those lines I already knew this song was going to send my heart soaring into the stratosphere and beyond. And I was right.
It’s not that the song is precisely about the same thing that I’m about to discuss, but it touches upon it in a glorious way. Anyway, enough about the song itself. So much has already been written and said about the aforementioned artist and her work that I don’t really have anything to add at this point except what I’ve just written above. This essay is not really about her. It is about you.
The culture of celebrity and fame is, without doubt, one of the biggest sources of fascination for the general public. I share this fascination but with a slightly different twist. I believe that while all these people are completely absorbed and sometimes obsessed with the aura, mystique and fantasy of stars and celebrities, they are missing one very important point: They themselves are all stars. And if they could recognize this, they would ultimately be a lot happier, confident and better at everything they do.
Why is it important to recognize or at least try to have faith in your true nature as a star? Because a pauper who suddenly realizes he was actually a prince all along will be compelled to finally start behaving like a prince. By that, I don’t mean acting stuck up or arrogant. I mean behaving and doing everything with as much excellence, dignity and grace as he is inherently capable of.
Now, I’m quite serious when I say that I believe that deep down everyone’s really a star. I don’t care who you are or how low on the totem pole you think you might be. You’re a star. What’s my proof? Personally, I believe there are metaphysical truths for which you can’t find proof in the external world using your five senses (though you can definitely find clues), and this is one of them. Basically, that means I have no proof. This is my intuition, and I tend to go with my intuition.
I’m going to try to argue my case, anyway. But it’s more mystical than rational so you either feel me on this one or you don’t.
Consider, first, that the raw materials for everything that exists in the universe – the very things that we ourselves are made up of – are created from within the cores of stars (of the astronomical kind). This is called stellar nucleosynthesis and it’s real. So when I say you are a star, it’s not just some nice metaphor. We are quite literally stars.
Next, consider the subconscious complex people have that stars and celebrities are somehow more “important” than them, which is all a big illusion but a very powerful one.
If you really think about it very carefully, there’s nothing that intrinsically makes a celebrity more valuable than any other human being. From the worldly, business perspective, yes, Justin Bieber has more monetary and social worth than Joe Schmoe, your neighborhood plumber. But not in the eyes of God, who is your biggest fan. Or, if you don’t believe in God, let’s just say from the humanistic perspective. After all, it was one of the most famous humanist philosophers of all time, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the immortal words, “all men are created equal,” a saying we’ve all heard so often in school that it’s become almost meaningless. But actually there’s a very deep tradition of philosophical thought behind that statement. We are truly created equal in every imaginable way, so if it’s possible for such a thing as a “star” to even exist, it also means we are stars and the distinction between star and non-star is an illusion.
The whole industry and culture of stardom is one Grand Illusion that we, the public, create, sustain and empower. If you wanted, it could disappear into a cloud of (star)dust the very moment you decided for it to. You are the actual source of power. You give celebrities their power with your attention, interest and money. Without you, they are truly nothing. In a very real way, therefore, the power of celebrities is only an outer symbol of your power.
Due to my work in the arts and entertainment, I have sometimes stood in the presence of certain celebrities. While people around me, my friends and co-workers included, would get giddy and look for their golden photo opportunity, I often made it a point to refuse to act different in front of those celebrities. Not because I dislike celebrities – not at all. It was just my quiet way of making a statement that I am equal to those celebrities and don’t need to get particularly excited around them.
Now, none of this is intended to take away at all from the celebrities we love. It is simply to elevate you to your proper place among the constellations.
Now let’s come down to earth and look at this issue from a more mundane level.
I love etymology (tracing the lineage of a word and how it came to mean what it does) because it can open your eyes to the true, original meanings of words and make you look at them a whole new way.
Why are celebrities called “stars” in the first place? What’s the connection between a movie or pop star and an astronomical body? Well, what do stars do? They “shine.” To “shine” means to give off light and stand out among the darkness. Throughout history, light has been synonymous with knowledge, while darkness has been synonymous with ignorance. When you are not widely known, people are ignorant of you and your talents (“darkness”). When you shine, people are receiving knowledge (“light”) of your existence and the gifts and talents you have to offer.
What does it mean to shine? And what does it take? All it takes is to be extremely good at whatever it is you do and to make that known to as many people as you can (i.e., smart and effective marketing). Traditionally, this meant standing out in contrast to others, which is inevitable in a worldview of competition and scarcity. But here again let’s use the universe itself as our model. How many stars are there in the universe? Nowadays many scientists are guessing somewhere around 300 sextillion (that’s 3 followed by 23 zeros!). From the finite human standpoint, that might as well be infinite. That’s how big a number it is. And yet the universe easily contains them all. Therefore, fret not: there is room enough for all of us to shine and then some.
To shine also means to “reflect” (like a shiny mirror). If you reflect other people’s inherent beauty back to them – especially if they themselves aren’t able to see it on their own – then that, too, will make you shine. (And you can find ways to do this in almost any occupation). This is also partly the secret of GaGa’s own phenomenal success. Not all, surely, but partly.
Next, let’s look at the word “celebrity.” Originating in the 14th century, it initially meant a “solemn rite or ceremony.” It comes from an Old French word, celebrité, meaning “celebration.” So the overall sense of the word is of a solemn celebration of something verging on religious zeal.
This is quite applicable to the modern use of the word “celebrity” (as in a famous person). After all, what do we do with celebrities? We celebrate them in a ceremonial, almost quasi-religious way. And why do we celebrate them? Because they inspire us somehow. The exact ways and methods by which they do so vary, but the bottom line, once you get past all the baggage, is that we celebrate and worship celebrities because they inspire us, just like the mythical heroes and gods of old did with their larger than life tales. And what’s the common ground between celebrities and mythical heroes? Dignified excellence in their work.
The reason why, for much of our modern history, most celebrities seem to come from the arts and entertainment fields is that the arts tend to inspire us in a more immediately recognizable way. This is because the stories and images we see in mass media and on magazine covers parallel the role that mythology and art served in ancient times (and in ancient times art and mythology were the SAME thing).
But it doesn’t have to be limited to the mass media. The truth is that you can inspire people in an almost infinite diversity of ways. All you have to do is just give them something they either want or need and to do it very, very well. The world is starting to recognize this. This is why people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are also celebrities when, in a different era, they might not have been. Even actors, until modern times, could rarely dream of becoming celebrities because it was considered a lowly profession.
Throughout history, the range of social roles and occupations through which one could become a star or celebrity has shifted and evolved. It has gotten wider and wider until today, with the help of electronic media, the range of ways in which one can become a celebrity is immense indeed. Eventually, one will be able, theoretically, to become a celebrity by doing anything, as long as one does it well enough. This is, in fact, already beginning to happen. Just take a close look at the media and consider the range of people who are celebrities.
Social and cultural perceptions are fickle and come and go, but great truths are eternal. Therefore, whether the outside world recognizes it yet or not, in your mind, you should think and act as if you already are a star at this moment. Because you are.
The important distinction is that my definition of a star (vs. society’s definition) doesn’t require that you be “famous” in the typical, common use of the word today (i.e., being known by millions). All you have to do to is serve and inspire people with love and to become very good at it. If you’re able to accomplish this, you’ll have an entire concert hall full of angelic beings applauding and stamping their feet. For you might still be unknown on earth, but in the realm of spirit you are and always have been known to many.
Actually, from the ultimate cosmic viewpoint, it doesn’t even matter whether you excel in anything or not. You don’t even have to get off your couch. You are a star by birthright and just the fact that you exist is enough. But, for most people, that isn’t convincing enough. That’s why I say that if you want to consciously claim your stardom, discover what it is that you want to do or are naturally good at (ideally both) and work hard to become truly great at it and use it to serve and inspire your community and, by extension, humanity.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t even have to be something extraordinary. Even the ordinary, when done with passion and love, becomes extraordinary. Matt Harding was just your proverbial ordinary guy, but he became really good at traveling around the world and dancing everywhere he went. Actually, he wasn’t even good at dancing. But he was good at filming himself dancing badly. And he has inspired millions upon millions through his quite ordinary videos. Check out the one below. At the time of this writing, over 35 million people have viewed it. That’s a lot.
Despite my assurances that you are already a star, if you want to become literally famous in the usual sense, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing that. But if you believe you must have it before you can feel happy or content, then you are treading a desolate road, for I guarantee that even if you were to attain literal fame and celebrityhood, that in itself will not make you happy.
If, on the other hand, you can first realize the true nature of yourself as a star no matter who, what or where you are at this very moment, then you will not have that desperate need for fame that drives so many to heartbreak alley. Moreover, even if and when you attain it you will be bulletproof to all the drama, bullshit and emotional lows that it inevitably brings.
I opened with GaGa and I close with GaGa, whose star power I borrow here with respect and gratitude, and who, as the icon of inner stardom for outcasts everywhere, is such a fitting coda for this essay:
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Yeah. Shine on, you beautiful stars.