Since the release of Silence of Souls earlier this month, I've been having a few absolutely incredible experiences. I can't believe these things are happening to me, especially this quick- I would have thought it would take years before experiencing anything like this: I feel like a "celebrity."
Obviously, not to the scale (or anything even remotely close to it) that Brad Pitt or Ellen DeGeneres feel like celebrities, but there have been a few occasions where I felt like I was somebody. I have "fans," and it's incredible. There's been four people who have contacted me, praising my work, and telling me how inspiring I am to them. I've gotten to know a couple of them, and they're amazing people.
Twice there's been instances in real life that were totally surreal.
The first one was when I went to a party about a month ago, and there was this girl there I had never met. I introduced myself to her, and she said "Oh, I know who you are! You wrote 'Surprise Party!' That was a fantastic play, and it's so nice to meet you!"
The second one was when I met this caretaker that comes to visit my grandpa once a week. She asked me if I was the "writing granddaughter he always talks about" and I said yes. She then asked me to write down my name and the title of my book so she can look it up, so I did. When I handed her the piece of paper, she read it and then said "Oh, this sounds really familiar. I think I've heard of you!"
It's completely flattering, humbling, and unbelievable that these things would happen. I'm not sure I've really done anything to deserve such recognition, but I'll admit that I am really enjoying this incredible ride.
One of my friends, whom I have known for years, has been following along the whole time with my publishing, writing, et al. He gave me a piece of advice: "Now that you're starting to gain a rapidly-growing following, you should be mindful of who you are and create the image you want to be. You should stop posting political stuff and speaking your mind so much. If you're more bland to the public, more people will like you."
While I appreciate his advice and understand what he's saying, I don't agree with it- I respect his opinion, and if he feels that is what he wants to do when he starts gaining a following, then that is fine with me. But that's not the right choice for myself.
I am who I am, and I would rather have 100 fans who like the real me instead of 1,000,000 fans who like a bland, fragmented version of who I really am. I have strong beliefs, I have opinions, and I have a personality. I'm not going to hide who I am just for the possibility of gaining fans.
It took me years, but I finally like who I am- why would I want to oppress that now?
Undoubtedly, there will be people out there who don't like me for me. There will be people who dislike that I am pro-equality. There will be people out there who won't read my work because I believe in an afterlife. There will be people out there who assume that just because I am on the left side of politics that I am also very supportive of stricter gun laws (not so, but that's a story for another time).
I am who I am, and I like me. I hope you like who you are, too. Over the years, I've grown emotionally, expanded my mind, experienced things that have shaped who I am, and have formed opinions based on facts and what makes sense to me. It wasn't an easy journey to become who I am, so why should I try to hide it? It's impossible to be universally loved, so why be something I'm not when I can't please everyone anyway?
Be who you are, there's no one else like you. We are all so different- each with a unique set of experiences, beliefs, reasons, motivations, understandings, and so on. It's so much more interesting when we let the "real" us out instead of hiding behind what society expects us to be. At least, that's what I believe. ;-)