Chris Churchill Saves the World | America is a Country of Losers — Part III
Part III — American Super Losers Get Legendary!
When I was a kid, I always knew I wanted to be famous but I didn’t know what wanting that really meant. I realized now that I just wanted to be seen.
I always felt like an outsider in many different ways. In my neighborhood. In school, I was the gifted kid, pulled out of class to be with others in other schools with the same other-y label. While singled out in class as the smart one was nice to hear, it didn’t do a lot for feeling normal with your friends at recess. And though minorities in this country feel this all the time, I’m white and until I was twelve, most of my friends were black. Oddly enough, that wasn’t the thing that made me feel weird. It was becoming full-fledged white when we changed neighborhoods later that made me feel other in many ways. (Go ahead and laugh, but, I still don’t trust white people.)
Even in my own home, I often felt like an outsider. I was the last of five kids. They all remembered what it was like to be in a two-parent, all-the-kids–together household. My memories are only of being in a house with one parent who was either never around physically or, due to her extreme mental health issues, wasn’t around emotionally. Those siblings were older, and, even though they loved me, they couldn’t be there for me in the same way they had been able to be for each other. They were busy with school, funding their way in the world, and in my oldest sister’s case, raising her own kid. Everyone who was supposed to be mine was in a perpetual state of temporary to me.
Mork from Ork and the Sweathogs were there for me everyday at 4 p.m., though. So there’s that.
More importantly, though, in my mind, being famous one day was a way to be seen. To be taken into full consideration. To be understood. It was a misguided belief but I was a kid. It was the best I could figure out. My goals were planned by a lonely kid who happens to sport the same cowlick I do.
My entire life’s trajectory was based on being seen, no matter what cost to my relationships, my own sanity, or my wallet. More important than career, security, routine, love, whatever was to be seen. To know that people thought of me when I was gone. That maybe they told stories about me. If they told stories about me, maybe that meant they liked having me around. If they liked having me around, surely that meant they would be overjoyed to never leave me.
Abandonment issues, right?
I wanted to know I existed. Being famous would surely take care of that for me. I wanted to be legendary.
There’s where I fell into the American Loser Syndrome. Anything to be seen. Because, after all, that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? Seems that every YouTube superstar believes that being seen is the most important thing. Music stars, film stars, news anchors, comedians, politicians, and writers. Fame is the priority.
When I reached an age where it was reasonable to assume that fame may not find me, I tried to figure out what I needed. I needed to know I was seen as equals to the rest of the world. I needed to know that people thought about me. I know that now. But for those who never wanted fame, try to imagine what it’s like to not know that those who love you actually lobe you. It’s a hollowness that is disheartening and confusing.
Those celebrities seem happy. I know people talk about them because I hear them talking about them. I talk about them.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be famous, but a little voice in my head always responded to that desire with, “You will be, as soon as it’s not a big deal anymore. As soon as it doesn’t matter to you anymore.”
For years now, I’ve been in therapy working it out, and I finally came to the realization that all anyone needs to know about that craving to be legendary is to fully understand and fully internalize that you are legendary to someone. Not everyone. Someone specifically.
People think about you when you’re gone. They do. Not everyone. Particular people.
People talk about you. You are the subject of some of their studies. You are even the hero in some of their tales.
You are legendary.
Americans as individuals need to understand and accept that they are legendary because they exist. Just like everyone else. They are legendary without a YouTube following or a TV show or international celebrity of any kind. You are already good enough. There are other people who see you. Even if you don’t know who they are, they’ve seen you. And they’ve spoken about you.
When I was in my late twenties, still in the throes of striving for fame, regardless of what that might entail, I had a wonderful Christmas memory. My four-year-old niece on my wife’s side, Madeline, who I had never gotten to like me like most kids do, finally decided I was okay. Amidst the holiday activity at this big, extended family, Christmas party, there we were, on the floor, rolling a ball back and forth to each other. I felt like I had won. This kid likes me! A few years later, I had a weird moment of clarity when I was thinking about the fact that I was still not famous (of course, mistakenly equating fame with love).
Amidst my disappointment, my memory of that Christmas Eve came to me like a leftover image on a recorded-over VHS tape. (“Oh yeah… why did I record over that?”) For the first time I had a healthy thought about fame. I thought, “I’m famous to Madeline. That’s pretty cool.” And I truly felt it. Then I reexamined my life and saw that there were a lot of people that saw me that same way. My other nieces, my nephews, my siblings, my parents, my wife. Hell, even my birds. I’m that “Legendary Chris” to them. (And they are legendary to me).
You are already famous, unique, and magical. And I hope you are already rich beyond your wildest dreams but only in a currency you may have not yet recognized and valued as it should be valued. The currency of connection to others. Feeling connected, validated, and loved. Seriously, don’t gloss over that part. That’s important.
I am legendary. I am famous. I am magical. To someone.
You are legendary, famous and magical to someone.
If you accept that, you’ve already won.