The psychological effect of fame.
I noticed something very odd the other day. Ainan, 11, was going for an interview for something or other (no need to discuss it further, just yet). Standing to one side, holding a form that I had just filled in, was a young woman. A little shudder passed through her, as I gazed at her. How curious, I thought.
“What’s up?”, I asked, gently.
She clutched the form, concerning my son, more tightly, in her hand. “I am nervous.” She shuddered again, as she said this.
Now, I hadn’t expected that. I didn’t enquire about what, for I knew, at once, what must have been making her nervous. It was all rather strange. SHE was part of the team interviewing Ainan – yet it was not Ainan who was nervous, but HER. It was Ainan’s fame that was affecting her so, it seemed. To her, Ainan was a personage she had read about in newspapers – a somewhat legendary figure, therefore – and so, to meet him, in the flesh, was for her a matter of some challenge.
I led the conversation away from the thought that made her nervous and on to the task that Ainan had to complete, that day. As her thoughts turned to her work, she seemed to relax somewhat – for that domain was more in her control.
The moment was a startling one for me. It made me realize that, though Ainan is very young, he is, already, to many eyes a “famous person” – with all the psychological effects on people that come with that. I am led to wonder how much this effect on others will grow, over the years, as he continues to achieve unusual things and continues to become better known, thereby. To me, he will always just be my son – but to others, it is clear, he is already becoming something else – a figure of some weight, in the world, at least in terms of the effects he has on people’s minds. This little incident was just a hint of what fame can be. I learnt something from it: when a person becomes famous, it is not they who change, but the whole world in response to them. My son, Ainan, was still my son Ainan – he had not changed in any way since becoming well known – but, at times like this, it was clear that the world had changed in response to him. The world was no longer the same – it was gradually becoming something else, something new.
I hope that whatever the world becomes, in response to Ainan, that it continues to be welcoming and accepting, as it has been so far. I know this, however: that whatever happens, Ainan, being Ainan, will remain centred and calm, in the middle of it all. Ainan’s fame will change the world, as it appears to him – but Ainan will remain as he is: a quiet observer of it all.
I am left with one question, as I reflect on that twenty-something woman’s reaction to Ainan. How will girls behave towards him, when he becomes a teenager? If a twenty-something woman can be led to shudder at his presence, how on Earth will teenagers react when Ainan, himself, is one? Perhaps this particular young scientist will have something of the “pop star” about him. There are, after all, already signs of some perturbations in the social world. I wonder what Ainan will make of it all? We shall have to wait and see.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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