How To Handle Fame

Updated: July 09, 2024
Categories: General Mental Health
0 min read
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Introduction

This article is about how to deal with fame. But first, let’s clarify “fame” beyond the superficial everyday usage. The word “fame” originates from the Latin word “fama,” which means “report, rumour, reputation, renown.” It evolved in English through Old French and Middle English and relates to reputation and public recognition. We humans care deeply about reputation, it holds evolutionary, social, and psychological motivations. For instance, the evolutionary perspective highlights how reputation plays a critical role in reproduction, ergo, survival. Indeed, a good reputation equals access to resources, mates, and alliances, increasing the chances of survival and passing on genes.

The social aspect means if one holds a good or positive reputation, one is more likely to be considered trustworthy and reliable. Think of Rick in The Walking Dead. He’s considered honourable, people like and trust him so they follow him (even if he didn’t ask for it). It also means he experiences stronger social bonds and support. Then there are the psychological factors. We have an intrinsic need for social approval and acceptance. Many psychological theories attest to this. Why? It’s to do with self-esteem and belonging. When viewed positively, we feel validated which is important for our mental and emotional wellbeing. This is why reputation is highly valued the world over.

But fame is caring for one’s reputation on steroids. When one has fame, one is known or talked about by many people, usually (but not always) because of notable achievements, widespread media coverage, or public attention. It often implies a high level of recognition which can be for good or bad reasons. Nowadays with the explosion of social media platforms, more people can experience a sense of fame. There are levels and degrees of course. So, this article is for anyone who needs tips on how to deal with fame, including how to handle ‘haters’ and we’ll also look at a couple of celebrity examples that can teach us a thing or two about how to handle fame.

Tips On How To Deal With Fame

Know Yourself

One thing that will help someone understand how to cope with fame better is to nurture a very strong sense of self-awareness. Knowing oneself is key because the ‘self’ is the basis for everything we do. It is the link between us, others, and the world. It is the very thing we are seeking to protect when we are trying to manage our reputation and others’ perceptions of us. It is why we have personas. Personas are versions of us, they are largely false and we create them to curry favour, be liked, accepted, and even loved. For those with fame, there is another level of this and a persona that people ‘know’. It’s important to know oneself therefore, to keep a separation between personas and who we are. A strong sense of self and awareness of oneself can be the thing to ground us, it is where we can return and feel safe. Therapy can help.

Keep A Healthy Daily Routine

Whether you’re handling fame or not it is important to have structure. We need this to grounds us. Structure offers a sense of certainty and consistency, and makes us feel in control. The world of fame is like a different world in many ways. Famous people, whether a part of the entertainment industry, or social media famous, can experience a reality that is vastly different from their family and pre-fame friends. This can feel isolating. Clients of mine notice this. They find that they have less in common with their loved ones, and feel like they’re managing dual lives and identities. And in a way, they are. I notice how having some kind of structure by way of routines can feel very secure and containing for them. It helps them manage their physical and mental health, and contain the chaotic and dynamic lifestyle they lead, and also help reconcile the dual worlds they inhabit.

How To Set Boundaries

One way how to handle fame is by setting boundaries. There are several ways to do this, for example, it can help to employ professionals to handle public interactions and manage your schedule. This helps filter requests and maintain a much-needed buffer between one’s personal and professional lives. It’s also important to maintain privacy by protecting private spaces, this means keeping them off-limits to the public and media (e.g., having undisclosed residences and private vacation spots). Setting boundaries on social media is also key. For example, using privacy settings, limiting direct interactions, and being selective about what is shared. Time boundaries help allocate specific times for work-related activities and personal time, making sure there’s a clear distinction between professional obligations and personal time to recuperate. Some may have to use legal measures to protect privacy, like restraining orders against stalkers or legal action against intrusive paparazzi. Sometimes boundary violations may happen, these should be addressed through public statements to reiterate the need for privacy. It’s also helpful to get support from close friends, family, and mental health professionals to help manage the pressures of fame. These strategies can help protect personal lives and maintain mental and emotional health.

Communicate Clearly

Another way to set boundaries is by way of clear communication. This may even be about boundaries themselves. For example, communicating openly to one’s fans, the media, and even friends and family to relay when and where you are available. For those dealing with fame, clear communication is also crucial because of the impact miscommunication can have on one’s career, mental health, and life. Don’t take my word for it though, just ask Rosanne Barr. Indeed, her social media communication whilst under the influence of (prescription) drugs meant she said some very loaded things, and even though she very poorly tried to backtrack, the damage was done. She not only lost her career, but it affected the jobs of all the other actors on her show and made her a laughing stock. Her example of managing to get herself cancelled is a sobering demonstration that communication matters!

Interact With Media In A Consistent Manner

Whether you’re a social media or general media star, when it comes to how to deal with fame, consistent interaction with media or your audience is important to maintain a positive public image, manage your narrative, build trust, and engage effectively with your audience. Remember the social aspect of reputation? Fame makes it even more important. You’re building a brand, and for brand stability, consistent interaction helps maintain a stable public image. Consistency reinforces your brand identity and means you align with your personal and professional goals. It also demonstrates reliability and professionalism which builds trust and credibility. Also, by proactively addressing rumours, sharing your perspective you can manage how your stories are told. Consistency also means you can engage with your audience, showing you care about them via regular updates, interviews, and appearances will help maintain interest and connection with fans, fostering loyalty and support. And if ever a crisis occurs, a consistent approach allows you to share your side. Ultimately, you can foster positive relationships which can provide more favourable coverage and opportunities for collaboration. Finally, regular and predictable interactions convey transparency and authenticity which is appreciated by audiences.

Accept Criticism

When they were writing the book about how to deal with fame, they may have forgot to add this one in, or maybe some famous people simply skipped that chapter. Yes, we all experience criticism in some shape or form at some point in our lives, warranted, and unwarranted but it’s important to pause before reacting. This is what the smart celebs do. When we simply react, we’re likely to be defensive and highly clouded by emotions – Axl Rose was a good example of this. He nearly ended one of the greatest rock bands ever because of his inability to see beyond himself and learn. Slash put it nicely when he talked about them being older and wiser. So pausing for thought can offer distance and in time, clarity. This means that if the criticism is warranted, we can own it and respond constructively, rather than reactively. If it is not warranted, we may still be able to see the logic in it and respond to this at the very least. So for famous people who have a reputation to protect, remember you are in a position that naturally invites more criticism, warranted or not, so take pause, and control.

Keep Your Inner Circle Tight

A solid backbone for coping with fame is a solid social network. Famous people tend to experience an inability to trust people because others often latch on to them for their reasons. They are thus unable to easily form new trusting bonds outside of their circles, and even within them, there are no guarantees. So it is imperative to have an inner circle that one feels supported by and secure in. Make sure that everyone in your inner circle is someone you can rely on and trust, it is important that you feel safe. It is also important that if these conditions are met, you take the support and advice of said circle, and let them be your reality barometer, the ones that will tell you things that are in your best interests, not in the interests of others who may be seeking to exploit you in some way for their gain – Michael Jackson, anyone?

Learn From Your Mistakes

Michael Jackson also serves here, as someone who sadly did not learn from his mistakes. Michael often put his trust in people who were seeking to take from him in some way. Whether big or small scale, whether famous or not, we all must do what the Dalai Lama recommends; when we make mistakes, we must ensure we don’t lose the lesson, otherwise, it’s all in vain. Mistakes are a wonderful thing if they teach us something, if, after that day, we know we will do our utmost to never repeat the mistake. It means we’ve expanded and grown. When it comes to fame, when one’s reputation is at stake and the stakes are much higher, there is no excuse for losing the lesson, and the backlash can be hugely immense. When others see you make mistakes, you reveal your humanity, by learning from them, your wisdom.

Stick To The Art That Made You Famous

So when it comes to how to handle fame, this one may be a bit controversial and I understand that. Why shouldn’t you expand your wings and try your hand at other things?? Maybe you should. But. Sometimes people get so carried away, they start so many threads and end up getting themselves tied up in knots. If you’re famous for acting, maybe there’s a reason for that? If you’re famous for a certain kind of social media, maybe you’re onto something. Doing too much, just because you can, because it’s been offered, doesn’t mean it will be good for you, both professionally, or personally. There are of course many who have ventured beyond their initial fame and made great success of it, more power to them. Essentially it’s about why you’re venturing out. If it’s for money and you know you’re not going to be appreciated for it then maybe pull back, that’s all.

Date People Who Are Not Famous

This may seem strange but dating people who are not famous can be good for many reasons when dealing with fame. Firstly, you will experience a more grounded relationship, one that offers some kind of normalcy and connection to the everyday life of those outside the fame bubble so you don’t lose touch. You may experience more genuine emotional support and more of an authentic connection, as someone who is not famous can be a safe haven away from scrutiny, offering stress relief and the ability to relax. Your non-famous partner is also less likely to covet the spotlight, which means you can enjoy a more discreet and private relationship without added pressure. There is also less chance of professional competition and fewer conflicts of interest for a healthier and more balanced dynamic. Then there is the possibility of a broader social circle, and experiences you might otherwise miss out on. All this can offer a balanced, fulfilling, and supportive personal life for you.

Keep Your Ego In Check

When it comes to fame, egos are massaged on an unprecedented level. When any of us get too big for our breeches we’re heading for a world of hurt and may be in need of some humble pie, stat! So one important aspect when it comes to how to cope with fame is to nurture your humility, not your ego. Clearly you’re good at something, whatever it is that’s earned you fame and recognition, you’ve nailed it and you have the accolades to prove it. But, wasn’t pride one of the deadly sins? Doesn’t it come before a fall? Remember, all good things come in moderation. Whether you’re religious or not, these narratives and discourses are human, we humans don’t like arrogance and you have to remember that your audience won’t either.

Be Kind To Fans

This one relates to the last. You are famous because of your fans. They are your sunshine, they are the ones that are literally buying what you’re selling. As soon as you lose sight of this, you lose humility, gratitude, and very likely, fame, one day. One way how to handle fame is to honour your fans, always. Remember when Dana White, the President of the UFC called Justin Timberlake the “biggest douchebag” he had ever met, and a “d*******”? This was owing to White’s view that Timberlake had been dismissive and rude to his children. White is someone who values taking the time to acknowledge fans, especially children. Later, Timberlake reached out to White to resolve things and it seems this was appreciated (maybe he learned from his mistake?). But you see, no matter who you are, it is always important to be kind to fans, and not just those with famous dads.

Be Aware Of Opportunists

Coping with fame involves the need to understand when others are seeking to use, exploit, or manipulate you in some way. This relates to other aspects already mentioned, like the importance of a tight inner circle and the inability to trust others so easily. Yes, remember the things mentioned about reputation? When one has power, status, and wealth, one has access to things. Others will see this, and they will also see you as their way of getting to something they want, you become the means to an end. It’s unfortunately Machiavellianism 101. Michael Jackson unfortunately serves as a major example of someone who could have done with more awareness of opportunists and we all know what sadly happened there. Other examples might include the Carter siblings who demonstrate that opportunists may be much closer to home. Of the five children of Jane and Robert Carter, only two are alive, three died due to substance-related incidents and mental health problems, some related to the pressures of fame and the lack of a tight inner circle.

Try To Separate Private And Public Life

It’s important to separate private and public life for several important reasons, including maintaining mental health, and protecting personal relationships. This includes having clear boundaries about what you are willing to share publicly (e.g., you can create separate social media accounts for personal and public interactions). It’s important to keep some things for yourself and personal contacts to maintain some sense of normalcy. Some things have been mentioned like, having professional buffers between yourself and public interactions, and using legal options. It’s also important to be consistent and strategic about media interactions by preparing for interviews and agreeing on off-limits topics. Those who have an imbalance in their public and personal lives and selves soon struggle with the pressure and intrusion. When handling fame it’s imperative for one’s stress and anxiety levels to achieve a healthier work-life balance to prevent burnout and ensure the longevity of your career, and life.

Manage Your Finances

How to deal with fame when it comes to finances? Why do we even ask this? Well, when one is famous, people expect you to have money and more than most, they may even know what you earn, where you live, what car you drive, how much you’re ‘worth’ – all kinds of personal financial information that most of us, fortunately, don’t have exposed. This means you’re a target for those opportunists I mentioned earlier. People will come to expect things from you, and may begrudge you for it at the same time. So, you have to employ the right people to help you manage your finances well, and make sure they don’t try to help themselves to them while they’re at it. Was anyone else shocked at the $500 wine bottles Amber Heard and her leech friends were guzzling down at the expense of Johnny’s wallet? And don’t get me started on those fancy apartments; those leeches had some pretty expensive tastes when it wasn’t their dime. Funny that.

Is Fame Hard To Handle?

As you may imagine after reading this far, or know from your own first hand experience, fame is not devoid of its challenges. Of course, with it comes many benefits, including wealth, status, and opportunities, but there are always two sides to everything. Many things come with fame that can make it incredibly difficult to handle, read our article about Moon Bin and the pressures of fame. But these everyday pressures, like the need for perfection, the pressures to perform and look and act in ways expected of you, trying to outdo the competition, or one’s last release (whatever medium it may be), all create pressure and anxiety. The way people react to you is also ever apparent and can mean that on one day, self-esteem feels like it’s riding high, whereas on the next, it’s crumbled down like a house of cards. Yes, this of course means that self-esteem is very fragile rather than healthy and strong.

Then there are the difficulties trusting people, the constant scrutiny, and the sense of isolation and loneliness, all of which can cause depression. So it’s necessary to know how to cope with fame or it can eat you up and spit you out like the many who succumbed to the pressures that come with it. We’re talking life and death here. This article has discussed some extreme examples, Michael Jackson had the kind of fame that most people in any of our lifetimes will never know. The Carters were embroiled in the world of fame and competition. This made them open to attack on a level many of us will fortunately avoid. These individuals can feel very alone in their struggles because there is very little understanding and empathy for them, because of their wealth, status, and success that most people covet and envy, but these individuals are human too and deserve compassion and care.

Pros And Cons Of Fame

Pros

  • Fame affords recognition and status
  • You’re often doing something you enjoy
  • Adoration and praise from the masses and peers
  • Wealth so you can live well and have experiences that maybe you couldn’t before, and that most never will
  • The ability to meet people you may never have got to
  • Opportunities, fame can open many doors due to the connections and one’s perceived value
  • Contentment is possible because you are possibly living your dream

Cons

  • There is always intense scrutiny on how you look, what you say, what you do, and everything in between, and you don’t get to switch it off
  • You may be perceived as having it easy, as if you don’t work hard but the work load is often very gruelling and relentless
  • The higher one rises, the harder the fall – there is always a fear that it can be taken away, the denigration can be just as abundant as the praise
  • Money creates a target on you, you cannot really trust peoples’ intentions, you’re open to litigation on a bigger scale
  • You cannot do the simple things others take for granted, like taking a walk in the park or eating out without being scrutinised or bothered
  • One’s value and stock are determined and experienced publicly, as is one’s personal life and business, you can feel like public property
  • You may become an unwitting and reluctant role model, made to answer for things you didn’t choose to be involved with
  • You can become jaded about life by your experience of fame and all the negativity that can come with it, you may become apathetic about what you do and no longer take any enjoyment from it or life

How To Handle Haters

Remember the target I mentioned, the massive one emblazoned on your back and lit up like the Christmas tree in Times Square? This will most certainly catch the attention of your haters. We all have them to some degree, but famous people have them in droves. So how do you handle them?

One way and the simplest of all is to ignore them. Why? Because your haters are often going to be people who are for some reason triggered by you, their hatred of you reveals more about them than it does about you. Think about it, we’re all here for a short time and they’ve decided to focus their energies on hating you, while you’re trying to go about living your life. What is going on for this individual who focuses on hate? Envy? Misery? Discontent in their own life? All of which create toxicity that they want to spread. Misery sure does love company. So decline their invitation, ignore them, or I guarantee it, this is psychology 101, they will not leave you alone. Another thing you can do is use them for motivation, the more successful you become, the more they will hate you. Ha I’m not saying do it for this reason, this wouldn’t be the healthiest thing, but it can be a pretty cool way of turning something negative into a positive. Also, don’t forget yourself, this is why it’s important to know yourself, don’t let the haters penetrate your resilient shield. Their hate filled rhetoric does not define you, it fuels your success.

Celebrities Who Handle Fame Well

Keanu Reeves

Keanu imbues what this article prescribes; he keeps a low key lifestyle and seems to shun extravagance. His girlfriend, Alexandra Grant, is also not in the entertainment industry which means they share mutual respect for privacy and a low profile. Reeves is also known to be generous and kind, showing he has kept his ego firmly in check and is kind to his fans. He also manages to fiercely guard his private life so maintains a clear boundary between his public persona and private life

Angelina Jolie

Jolie is well known for her humanitarian work, this means the media often focuses on her philanthropy rather than her personal life​. Indeed, she is able to maintain a certain level of privacy, carefully and deliberately choosing what she is willing to share. She thus controls her narrative somewhat. Jolie also prioritises her family and is selective in her career choices, often opting for roles and projects that resonate with her personal values and interests.

Conclusion

The world of fame is not all glitter and sparkles, and party and pomp. It is a highly controlled, scrutinised, and pressure laden way of life. Many unsuspecting people have fallen by the wayside because they didn’t know how to deal with fame, possibly like many, believing it was all glitz and glamour. But fame is a beast that needs to be tamed and managed, otherwise, it will eat you alive and your reputation will be the least of your worries.

Table Of Contents
Introduction
Tips On How To Deal With Fame
Is Fame Hard To Handle?
Pros And Cons Of Fame
How To Handle Haters
Celebrities Who Handle Fame Well
Conclusion
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Rehanna Kauser Private Therapist
About The Author
Rehanna Kauser, Psychologist
Rehanna has studied Psychology and Counselling Psychology at four UK universities. She enjoys working with individuals, couples, and families, and also loves learning, and writing. Having always been fascinated with the human mind and behaviour, her interests marry well with her naturally caring disposition, and affinity toward helping people.
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