Urbandictionary.com defines a “fangirl” as “a rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character or an actor“. Ok, so by that exact definition, I’m not really a fangirl. I’m a professional 27-year-old, so I tend to avoid any behavior that could be described as “rabid,” and I don’t obsess over fictional characters (though I’ll freely admit to shedding tears over certain Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter deaths). In fact, for the most part, I’m that teacher that’s really not up on the pop culture. Apparently, even at 27, I’ve reached that age when students mention the current stars, more often than not I’ll respond with an ignorant “who?” I know the SciFi/Fantasy genre pretty darn well, a fair amount of country music, and what my husband has taught me about the world of comic book superheroes. But beyond that, my pop culture knowledge is pretty limited, and I’m ok with that.
But every now and then, some famous person will catch my attention, and I find myself exhibiting the tendencies of a closet fangirl. I read up on that person on IMDB, Wikipedia, fan sites, and blogs, and I watch every movie, interview, music video, and YouTube clip I can find. I’m fascinated by every nuance, facial expression, and career choice. It’s not an emotional attachment by any means, but I am intensely fascinated by them and spend more time Googling them than I should probably admit.
For a long time I could never figure out the pattern of who attracted this fascination and why. Musicians, actors (stage & film), public speakers, and authors, young and old, male and female, have all been the subject of this semi-stalkerish behavior at some point. I finally figured out the connection, though. The professions and targeted demographics may differ, but there are common factors the objects of my fascination tend to share. So here they are– the qualities a famous person must possess to turn me into a fangirl (sort of):
- They have exceptional talent in their field.
- They don’t rely on talent alone and don’t take their success for granted. They work hard (very hard) to succeed.
- They clearly love their job.
- They become famous on the merit of their work, not their presence in the tabloids.
- They do not behave as though their fame gives them a sense of entitlement.
- Other people consistently describe them as genuinely nice, kind people.
- They give credit where credit is due.
- They humbly defer the praise bestowed on them by passing it on to others whenever possible.
- They express true gratitude to those that have helped them along the way.
- They tend to avoid talking about their personal lives to the press, graciously deflecting personal questions when they can, and outright refusing to comment when pressed.
I love watching people like that. I love seeing hard work rewarded for the right reasons. I love seeing the joy of a job well-loved on their faces. When I stumble across an individual that fits that description, I want to know everything I can about that person. I am often blown away by their skills and abilities, and find myself wishing I could meet them – not because I’m a fangirl, but because they seem like genuinely awesome people to be around. And so I Google them, so I can feel like I’m hanging out with these incredible people. You’ll never hear me talk about it in public, and I’m not going to name names of any celebrities (even the pictures in this post are more representative of my childhood nerdy-ness than any current fan status), but I have mental database of extraordinary people who bring joy to the world simply because they love what they do, they work hard, and they’re good at it.
I hope my students find similar role models. I hope they look up to the celebrities that are famous for the quality of their work and dedication to their craft, not merely good looks and juicy gossip. It’s nice to know they’re out there– individuals that are worth celebrating for their passion, work ethic, and God-given talent. Because isn’t that the ultimate career goal? Finding something you absolutely love doing, and then succeeding at it?