It is Not Popular to Be Popular

It was fairly empty on the New York City subway especially since it should have been packed with the morning commute. I always feel lucky when the train pulls into the station and there are still seats available.

Usually commuters read the newspaper, listen to music, read books or just sit with their eyes closed, but on this particular day as I sat down I noticed a guy sketching in his notebook. He kept watching the person sitting across from him as he carefully added details to his drawing. I was impressed with his talent.

I began to study the faces of the other people sitting quietly in the subway car. Who are they? Where are they going? What are their talents?

Would you be surprised if I told you the guy on the subway was a famous artist? Would that knowledge all of a sudden make him more appealing? The picture he was drawing has not changed. It is only your perception of him that has been altered. Would you suddenly move closer to watch him sketch on the train now that you know he is famous? Would you want to know his name so you could tell all of your friends who you saw on the train? Would you want his photo or autograph? Are people valuable only if the media makes them famous?

Sometimes we are not wise in the way we select our role models. Sometimes we follow the crowd and vote for the most popular just because everyone else is doing it. How often does the media escalate a young talent to the top of the news, only to see later how drastically the star’s world shatters?

Why do we place so much emphasis on following every detail concerning a famous actor, rock star or politician? We forget how these stories tend to get distorted by the media. We recklessly equate money with talent or knowledge only to be disillusioned when our fantasy “role-model” fails.

I enjoy living in New York City because the neighborhoods are full of talented individuals. No one seems to realize, or care, that he has just walked past a talented musician, writer or artist. It doesn’t matter that the neighbor across the hall has an Emmy. We don’t brag that a famous jewelry designer lives on the 10th floor or a well-known actor lives in the building. We become friends because we have common interests and we are all trying to help each other and the community. True friendships shouldn’t be linked to titles, position, wealth or fame.

You don’t have to live in New York City to realize that extraordinary people surround you. Everyone has unique talents and abilities. Look beyond the surface to find the things that really make people fascinating. Being popular, famous or wealthy does not necessarily make someone interesting.

Find new role models. They are not on television. They are probably living next door. Sometimes the most interesting people are those who quietly live their lives away from distorted cameras. Surround yourself with talented friends. Make time for chocolate.