I find our societal obsession with celebrity culture to be a combination of hilarious and horrifying. Stroll the magazine section of the bookstore, and you’ll see dozens of magazines dedicated to the constant updating of what the Hollywood elite are doing. If that’s not enough to get your fix, just flick on your TV and enjoy any of the several channels that are entirely dedicated to rich-and-famous goings-on. Did you see who Paris is dating? Do you know what Britney did with her baby? Can you believe that (fill-in-the-blank actress) and (fill-in-the-blank actor) are getting divorced?
The fact remains that these famous folk are simply humans, but for one reason or another we’ve elevated them above our own status as regular citizens. Ah, but lucky for you, I have a sure-fire antidote to celebrity worship, courtesy of my good friend Dr. Joe Martin, an educator and author, and probably my favorite professional speaker. One of his ideas has always stuck with me: When we’re intimidated by other people, we’re less likely to be at our best when we’re around them.
Here’s Dr. Joe’s thought exercise for the next time you find yourself awestruck. Think about the last time you were sitting on the toilet, only to look over and realize that the previous user of said commode had used up the last of the toilet paper and hadn’t brought in a new roll. There’s no one around to yell for. So you have to do what he calls the toilet paper shuffle: You need to stand up, with your pants around your ankles, and shuffle over to the cabinet or closet to get a new roll, and then shuffle all the way back. (With luck, I hope, you don’t have to go up or down a set of stairs, which isn’t just humiliating, it’s dangerous!)
I don’t care how famous you are, how buff, beautiful, or buxom, no one looks glamorous doing the toilet paper shuffle. And if you can just remember that every person on the planet has had to do that at some point in life, then maybe, just maybe, you can let go of a little of the awe when you encounter that person. He or she is just another human – with a full set of problems, concerns, inadequacies, and self-doubts.
So don’t go putting people on a pedestal until you’ve imagined them shuffling away from the porcelain throne. No matter how famous or wonderful or rich any of them are, you are just as important – and death is the great equalizer when it comes to status: When it’s all said and done, it matters what you did, not what people thought of you.
How do you calm your nerves when talking to someone you might be intimidated by? Leave your comments below.