How Jennifer Lawrence Deals with Anxiety

Growing up, movie star Jennifer Lawrence was an unhappy teenager plagued by “strange anxiety”. Acting was a way for her to feel good about herself.

Jennifer Lawrence, Scene 1: Girl who feels worthless, worries about anything and everything, and finds herself too different from her classmates. Jennifer Lawrence, Scene 2: Reluctant celebrity, Oscar and Golden Globe winner, highest-paid actress in the world for two consecutive years (in 2015 and 2016).

And she’s only 28.

Lawrence achieved stunning success while dealing with chronic anxiety that surfaced in his pre-teens. The condition was so disruptive that her parents found a therapist to help her overcome her inner tensions and better adjust to school life.

“I was a weirdo,” Lawrence explained in an interview with Vogue. “I wasn’t harassed or anything. And I wasn’t smarter than the other kids – that’s not why I didn’t fit in. I’ve always had this weird anxiety. I hated recess. I didn’t want field trips. Parties really stress me out.

As a tomboy growing up in a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, Lawrence’s family nickname was Nitro (as in nitroglycerin) due to his combustible energy. She showed an uneasy curiosity about the world around her. But at school, the “light and joy” her mother saw at home were extinguished by her anxieties.

With acting, Lawrence has found a way to release pent up emotions as well as a creative outlet.

“I was having trouble at school and I had a lot of social anxiety…and playing was the only thing the anxiety went away. I didn’t feel good about myself until I discovered acting and how happy it made me,” she says.

The teenage dream

The unwavering desire to make acting her career came to fruition during a family trip to New York when she was 14 years old. agency calls, then an audition for a commercial, “and that’s how it started. After that I was all about acting and my poor mother had to deal with my obsession,” she recalled.

Lawrence and his mother eventually moved to New York and then to Los Angeles. Along the way, her mother insisted that she get at least a high school diploma. Lawrence would hole up in his room for eight straight hours to attend his classes. She ended up graduating early.

It was so obvious that acting was Lawrence’s delight that her mother persuaded her father that the teenager should stay the course rather than return to Kentucky for a more normal adolescence.

“I would never have gone anywhere without my parents supporting me and my mother believing how important acting was to me,” Lawrence says.

It was like I had finally found something that people were telling me was good, that I had never heard of, ever. And that was a big reason why my parents let me do this.

The positive feedback she received due to her extraordinary performance became a counterweight to feeling that she was “hopeless for everything else”.

With how many directors and co-stars rave about Lawrence’s talent, it’s no wonder she’s conquered Hollywood as a chess prodigy who takes on the grandmasters and wins. Within two years, she had roles in episodes of Monk, Medium, and other TV shows, then landed a regular role on TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show even as she began working at the movie theater.

At 18, she was attracting critical attention for her starring roles in auteur films The Poker House (starring Selma Blair) and The Burning Plain (starring Charlize Theron, John Corbett and Kim Basinger). Her first starring role, as the brave heroine in the critically acclaimed independent film Winterʼs Bone, also earned her her first Oscar nomination and the glare of the Hollywood spotlight.

That attention intensified when Lawrence played the blue-skinned mutant Mystique in the 2011 blockbuster X-Men: First Class. The following year, she leapt into the stratosphere of fame with her star turn. as bow-wielding Katniss Everdeen in an even bigger blockbuster, the first Hunger Games movie.

In the process, she won the Oscar for best lead actress for her portrayal of a widow struggling with grief and depression in the comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook.

The perils of fame

In real life, Lawrence’s hyperkinetic personality wins friends and influences investigators. It would be hard to find a more refreshing and sometimes mischievous Hollywood star. She’s channeled her restless spirit—anxiety be damned—into a wickedly honest woman who resists the pressure to maintain a prefabricated, PR-savvy facade.

She doesn’t tone down her potty mouth when speaking to the press, freely shares stories of her many drunken escapades, and has no problem discussing her bodily functions. Her “one of the boys” persona is a legacy of her growing up as a competitive little sister to two older brothers.

As comfortable and unfiltered as she appears when doing commercials, the down-to-earth actress admitted to The New York Times that she considers herself “some kind of avatar.” This mental distance helps shield her from worrying about what people think of her, which is a trigger for her insecurities.

I’ve always had anxiety, sexual insecurities, and fear of being judged, and then when I finally did [nude scenes in Red Sparrow], I realized that it was not serious. I really felt liberated from it all.

In a Rolling Stone profile that aired just after The Hunger Games was released, Lawrence said she coped with the anxiety over her rising stardom by “cleaning up like crazy.” Experience and maturity — and a prescription — helped Lawrence let go of some of her day-to-day anxiety about paparazzi, public opinion, and the Hollywood lifestyle.

Her beloved dog Pippi also provides comfort during times of emotional stress, such as when her phone was hacked in 2014 and hacked nude selfies of her went viral on the internet.

Yet when asked if she prefers the “bad girl” or “good girl” roles, Lawrence reveals that she prefers playing a bad girl “because in a way that means I don’t care whether the public likes me or not.

“It’s more fun to play the bad girl,” she adds. “It allows me to release a lot of anger or anxiety on camera.”

first person, singular

Here’s a taste of speaking directly with Jennifer Lawrence about her anxiety and other issues:

Q: Was it a bit intimidating for you to start climbing the ladder as a teenager in New York?

A: I’ve had the benefit of knowing what I wanted to do with my life since I was 14…. I always knew acting was my destiny.

Q: Since you became so famous, has it become more difficult to maintain or develop real friendships?

A: I’ve learned to stick with people I know very well who haven’t changed their behavior with me because of everything that’s happened to me. It bothers me if I feel like people don’t treat me normally. I like to stay real and be myself around people I can relate to and who help keep me grounded.

Q: You spoke openly about your anxiety issues when you were younger.

A: My parents had to hide the newspaper from me because I was reading the newspaper and thinking, “The world is coming to an end!” The stock market is going to crash!” And I was like 11 years old.

I’ve had a severe case of anxiety since I was young about getting into trouble. I hate getting in trouble and I hate breaking the rules. So I normally try to live my life doing what I think is the best thing in the situation.

Q: How does your anxiety manifest?

A: I get the weirdest anxiety. When I was in elementary school, I used to tell everyone that I had a leg problem and it needed a lot of attention, my imaginary leg problem, and I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. And my mom comes to school, and one of my classmates is like, “How’s Jennifer’s leg?”

And my mom looks at me and she knows I lied and she had me purged. I was on the floor and she shot me all the lies I never told. She made me tell every lie and I cried. It was horrible!

[Now] even the smallest thing, like “How’s your day going?” and I have to purge.

Q: You’ve also had issues with anxiety on airplanes, haven’t you?

A: I’m not afraid of the plane, I’m afraid of myself in the plane and losing control of myself. I’m always afraid to get up mid-flight and shout, “We’re all going to fall!”

I did this.

I was on an overnight flight to Berlin [in the midst of promoting Passengers with
co-star Chris Pratt] when we started to encounter turbulence…. One of the baggage doors under the plane had opened and there were these crazy noises, the plane was [moving] side to side and I was yelling at the stewardess, “Is everything going to be okay?

Everyone was trying to be very calm and not scare the other passengers, but not me. I alarmed everyone. I felt it was my duty to make others panic more…. Chris kept trying to calm me down. He reached across the aisle and I was like “Aaarrggh, get off me!”

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