Popularity is a Trap!
He got on stage way more than I did. Even though I had all these ideas, he was the one that had the talent. Playing guitar and singing gave him the opportunity to sing on stage in front of hundreds of people weekly! I pretended to not care, it is not a big deal, right? But every time I saw him on stage I couldn’t help but think, “Why can’t that be me?, If only I had the chance to get on stage and speak, people would be so inspired. I could help so many people.” Although a noble thought, I also secretly desired the eyes to be on me, for people to be inspired by me, not by anyone else.
I never did tell him that I was jealous of the exposure he was able to attain; so, Caleb, if you are reading this, know that if there was any passivity radiating off of me in the first couple of years in college, it was because of this.
I think we all have a hidden desire to have the eyes on us, to have the ball in the last seconds of game or to go viral on YouTube because of our talent. Whatever community we a part of, we are all tempted to be on top, for everyone to look to us for guidance, help, or leadership. Social hierarchy is a real thing, and even if we do not want to admit outright, we would like to be the person who call the shots.
I never did get on the stage that Caleb stood on nearly as much as he did. I never had the chance to be noticed like he did. So, instead of exhausting myself for another year of college in the rat race of popularity, I decided to follow my own passion: Starting things. I founded two small organizations, one being PAC (A tour guide training program) and the other Thrive (A monthly worship night) in which both still exist today. I spent sleepless nights thinking of new ideas and new ways to help make the world a better place through these two mini-movements.
I vividly remember the first Thrive, I expected 30 people or so to show up. We chose a terrible rainy Friday night in a place called “The Barn”, and yes, it was as attractive as it sounds. To make matters worse, that was the same night another large worship night was happening! I was so close to calling it quits when two people arrived 20 minutes early to get seats, “Are you sure you are here for Thrive?” I said. Responding the two girls said, “We have been waiting all day for this!”. I glance over to the door and people flood in, 10, then 20, then 40, then 60 and we finally cap out at 70 people! After the night went splendidly well I began to talk with some people right after the event when I felt a tug on my jacket, turning around, I see my littler sister beaming, I bring my arms around her neck embracing her out of pure excitement. In the midst of the chaos I hear her speak four words into my ear: “I am proud of you.” All of the sudden tears start rolling down my cheek as I realize that the life I am living now is so much more fulfilling than participating in the never-ending race to the top of the social pyramid.
I think there is more to life than trying to talk, walk, and act a certain way so that more people will notice me. I think there is a way to transcend all of that, but I have to be willing to give up the pyramid and hierarchy’s. Through this experience I realized that popularity is trap. I need to forever chase after meaning by trying to do good in the world, forgoing the social games and the ego and running after purpose, not influence.