John Updike wrote somewhere…
“Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face.”
As someone who is so far away from being anything close to a celebrity, the quote feels laughable to reference here; if not preposterous.
However, where I think it’s applicable to us mere mortals is this idea that we become known for being someone and we become good at being this someone and we may even become “rich” at being this someone and then, one day, when we catch a glimpse of this someone in the mirror staring back at us and we no longer recognize this someone or no longer want to be this someone, we frantically go to rip away this proverbial mask and it feels akin to peeling off one’s face with a butter knife; because the mask has lost the string that previously kept it fastened and has eaten and even healed into the face like the fabric of clothing atop some open oozing wound.
This is why, perhaps, I tend to be anti-personal branding and hesitant of anyone who begins treating themselves as if they are an enterprise-in-miniature.
While a brand, an actual physical brand you see festooned on your favorite products should be concrete and unwavering, I worry that when we begin to apply this same language to humans, we create a problem.
Or, at the very least, we create a difficult question to answer…
Were humans created to remain “the same” over the course of an entire life?
I think not.
To me, a huge aspect of the human experience is choosing who you are, while accepting and even being open to the fact that you will likely change and you will morph and you will shed skin and you will become a slightly different, fuller, truer variation of yourself as you move closer to the version you were created to eventually embody.
I think the few of us lucky enough to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of “celebrity” miss out on this experience.
And, I’d argue the rest of us non-celebrities who fall victim to this strange age that celebrates the individual brand and influencer, miss out on this ongoing metamorphosis as well.
(While, at the same time, missing out on the mansion and the second mansion and the seven Maseratis and the caviar and forever being the most important person in the room).
Celebrity or non, we shouldn’t feel inclined to commit to being “someone” and remaining that someone for a lifetime — we do this and we risk the mask eating into the face.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
Sticky Notes is my email list reserved for entrepreneurs, creatives, marketers, writers and freelancers looking to sell like hell (without losing their soul).
Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on April 8, 2021.