Lights. Cameras. Fame.
There’s a part of all of us that craves the glamorous life of celebrity. We see them popping champagne corks, traveling in luxury, dining and shopping at the finest establishments, being waited on hand and foot, and having raving fans fawning over them. Who doesn’t want to live in the illusion of being a queen, ruling the world?
And who isn’t tired of being shuttled around where she doesn’t want to go, being part of the cattle call in coach class when she flies, and banging her head against the glass ceiling at work? It’s so tempting sometimes to just give it up and run away to join the proverbial circus.
What’s really at the heart of the matter? Is it that you are actually craving a life of significance? Do you want to feel like you made a mark that will be remembered when you are long gone?
The big question is, how much of you are you willing to part with to become someone that is perceived as “important”? Would you pose nude, sleep with the casting director, take a few dollars from the office cash fund, or in any other way compromise your values? It’s easy when you’re not in a difficult situation to say that you would never be willing to make concessions. But when your back is against the wall and all of the things that you think that you crave are dangled before your eyes, what would you truly do?
I thought that I was an oak, impervious to temptation that would lead me to compromise. My stance on modeling was that I would not pose nude; nor would I even do an “implied” nude. My brand was based on professionalism, and I had strict limits. However, I found myself in front of a camera with another model in a beautiful bucolic setting with no one but the two of us and a very tricky photographer; I started posing in an increasingly sexy, risqué manner. It was starting to push my discomfort zone; yet I kept taking direction, the vision of fame and fortune that would result from the project dancing in my head.
But when the other model disappeared for a while and returned with her dress draped in front of her nude body, I knew that I was in trouble. The photographer was expecting the same from me. I called an end to the shoot. My photos were scrapped; and the photographer decided that a good, sound berating was necessary. I fled the shoot, disgraced and shaken to the core.
The problem was that I allowed the photographer to dictate terms for too long. I had lost the sense of who I was, and conveniently forgot what I stood for. Mulling over this event, I determined that it served as an important lesson that I must teach other women; and that this topic is the very heart of what it means to be truly self-confident.
The key is that you must know yourself. You need to have the courage to stand up for that truth, regardless of the cost. You will have to risk rejection and not getting what you want as easily as you hoped.
I was fortunate to have escaped with minimal damage. As the faculty advisor for Students in Free Enterprise, I headed up a project to help women from Nepal escape a life of slavery. Young women are often susceptible to wanting to believe promises of a better life and marriage to a wealthy man; and finding themselves lured into the hopeless situation of human trafficking. The Nepali Rescue Project helped raise funds to rescue women from slavery, and assist them with setting up honorable micro-entrepreneurial ventures. These survivors were able to provide a better standard of living for themselves and their families, and could finally hold their heads high with the first modicum of self-confidence they may have ever known. This was an extreme example; yet it happens to hundreds of thousands of women every year when they feel trapped and want an easy way out. It is the reality of the world for those that desire significance; but don’t know how to achieve it.
This means that it is vital to be able to know the answer to the question, “What does significance mean to me?” Viktor Frankl, the survivor of a Nazi concentration camp asked that very question during the most frightening circumstances. His answer was that every moment that we are alive, we are significant.
This is tough for us to fully grasp Frankl’s message when we feel invisible and are blinded by stars in our eyes. It’s particularly the case when the wolves in sheep’s clothing are not evident; and we see others who seem to be blessed with more passion and fortune than we are.
At each moment, we are given choices. When we honor who we truly are, we are living our Truth. It comes from being responsible for each moment, knowing ourselves, taking charge of the decisions, and moving forward to claim the lives we were meant to live. Perhaps you won’t get to taste Dom Perignon and be draped in diamonds; but will your children, friends, or partner care? What will your legacy be? To be the envy of the world? Or to have mattered to those whose lives you touched, and known as a woman who lived life on her terms?
Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare penned the maxim that holds to this day, “To thine own self be true.” Treat yourself and your life as a gift, and you will find your significance.
Dr. Catherine Divingian