It’s a funny question that, at some time or another, we have probably asked ourselves or even others: which would you prefer—wealth or fame?
OK, ok, I know the politically correct answer is “health and happiness.”
Unfortunately, Amanda Beiler did not have much of a choice.
For Amanda, fame finds her.
What would you do if you wanted a simple life, just focusing on the kinds of things that God wants us to have—a good life, a righteous life, and happy life that is devoted to honoring him—and then you find yourself thrust into the spotlight?
Today, there are so many fame-oriented reality shows on television (and on YouTube.com) that glamorize fame. Gone are the days when children aspired to be doctors, firemen, teachers, or just “moms”—the noblest of all professions, in my opinion! Today, if you ask young teenagers, the #1 response is “I want to be famous.”
According to a 2012 research study of 10-12 year olds found that the majority of them wanted to be famous just for the sake of being famous. The predominant motivation for this was the desire for a celebrity-lifestyle as well as the child’s perceived talent to actually become famous (think Stage Mom Syndrome—every child should be a superstar, right?).
A follow-up study explored this trend in more detail and found that there is, indeed, a shift among our young children to tend toward narcissism, a desire to get and be noticed as a way to measure their self-worth. High lifestyle status with all of the trappings that go with it (fancy cars, houses, etc.) are the measure by which these young children gauge their future success. It’s not about helping others but helping themselves get ahead of everyone else.
That’s a sad commentary on today’s society.
In Plain Fame, a young Amish woman is faced with such a dilemma. Somehow she finds balance and ways to use her newfound (and unwanted!) fame to help people. The nobility of her values stays true, despite finding herself in a new lifestyle and surrounded by people who want nothing more than what she has.
When I did this research, I thought specifically about Amanda and how she is so different. She doesn’t want the fame or the lifestyle that accompanies it. And the more she shies away from the fame, the more the public loves her.
Think about that.
The public lives vicariously through Amanda because she is a real person and not someone who puts herself on the proverbial pedestal that the rest of the world aspires to be on! What they find so appealing about her is the very innocence that many youth abandon in the quest to achieve fame.
Isn’t that true of so many things in life? We desire what others have; yet, if we were just true to ourselves we might actually achieve more than what we desired in the first place!
Happiness should not be measured by what we get in life. Happiness should be measured by what we give.
Unfortunately, for every person who gives 150%, there are a dozen or more people out there who take 300%.
And, if people learn from example, what message are they sending to their children?
Fortunately, not everyone is like this. I know many of my readers are more aligned with my way of thinking. We recognize the shallowness of living a life focused on impressing others, taking and not giving, and abandoning a true relationship with God.
I’m happy that my own children have modest aspirations. One wants to be a gym teacher and the other a horse trainer. While I’d love to have one of them want to write (how cool would that be to write a book with Cat???), I recognize that they have to choose their own path and I support that.
Sources: Greenwood, D., et al. Fame and the social self: The need to belong, narcissism, and relatedness credit the appeal of fame. Personality and Individual Differences (2013),
Kauffman, Scott Barry. Why do you want to be famous? Scientific American, September 4, 2013,.