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Are All Creative People Insecure?

Kate Bosworth in And While We Were Here (2012)

Even people with exceptional creative talents and accomplishments can feel insecure.

Meryl Streep, for example, has said, “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing…You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Over the years of reading biographies and doing interviews with many highly talented and creative people, it has often struck me how many of them talk about being self-critical, and feel insecure at times.

In her article How to turn insecurity into confidence, Diana C. Pitaru makes these interesting comments:

“A certain amount of insecurity is healthy and helpful. When we feel insecure we question the things we do which, in turn, forces us to look closer at any given situation to analyze and clarify our options in order to move forward.

“The problem with insecurities is not that they exist, they do and will, but how they manifest, how you unconsciously integrate them with who you are, and how you allow them to define you.”

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Although I am quoting a number of actors here, this can be an issue for all of us who are creative.

The photo at top is actor Kate Bosworth, who has some helpful perspectives on insecurity and self-doubt.

She thinks “all actors are insecure.. I certainly am… I think almost all artists are insecure. I don’t ever watch myself and think, ‘That was great, I hit it out of the park!’ Never…

“One of the things I love most about this job is that I don’t feel like you can ever master it. I think you’re always learning and you’re always growing, and even when you think you’re at the top of your game, there’s always something else that you can do and learn.

“If I wanted to fall into a niche where I knew I was really good at something, I could do that and I could feel secure there.

“But I don’t want to do that, I want to do things that challenge me, that I will be scared doing, because I’m not the best at it.”

[Fashion Wire Daily, Jun 22 2006]

Another actor, Alison Lohman, has also commented on the value of not being secure or free of fear:

“With any film and even theater, you never get over being scared and overwhelmed, because it’s a new character and that brings on a whole new set of circumstances.

“That’s the exciting part of it – it’s those nerves that bring you to a higher level and makes you more hyper-aware. It makes your performance better.” [Hollywood Reporter, Mar 5 2003.]

High anxiety

If insecurity or anxiety is too high, though, it can interfere with our creative work.

Therapy, or many forms of stress management and self-help, can help people feel better about themselves and their work, and be more able to create freely and passionately.

> Related posts / articles:

Developing confidence

Stage Fright

Anxiety and acting

Being Creative and Self-critical

Talented, But Insecure [from the site of my main book: “Developing Multiple Talents”]

Taylor Swift: “I doubt myself 400,000 times per 10-minute interval.”

Emily Mortimer in The NewsroomWill Smith has said, “I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”

Emily Mortimer, even though an established actress, especially on account of her role in the TV show The Newsroom, still doubts her abilities: “I’m probably far too self-conscious to be an actress.”

She says she spends most of her working days “just saying the f—ing lines over and over, and walking out of the trailer just hoping it’s going to stay in your head until you get to the set, and you almost [think that] if you move your head a little bit it might fall out of one ear.”


Getting beyond impostor feelingsAnother article: Getting Beyond Impostor Feelings

Some examples of impostor feelings and beliefs:

“I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?” (Meryl Streep)

“I convince myself I’m fooling people.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)

“Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud.” (Emma Watson)

“I felt inadequate the entire time I was in graduate school.” (Rosalyn Lang, Ph.D.)

Valerie Young, Ed.D. is an expert on impostor syndrome and commented in an Entrepreneur magazine article:

“Millions of people, from entrepreneurs to celebrities, have a hard time internalizing their accomplishments.”

The article author notes “the impostor syndrome is especially common among people who become successful quickly or early, and among outsiders, such as women in male-dominated industries.”

Dr. Young adds, “They explain away their success as luck or timing. They feel this sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

See the article for a video, and visit the site of her program Overcome the Impostor Syndrome.

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Also see my site with Anxiety Relief Products / Programs


A news story reported that Natalie Portman “is fluent in Hebrew, French and Japanese…she told the New York Post that she’s considered leaving show biz to become a vet or a clinical psychologist.

“Before graduating from Harvard with a psychology degree in June 2003, Portman was credited — under her given name, Natalie Hershlag — as a research assistant to Alan Dershowitz’s “Case for Israel” and had a study on memory called ‘Frontal Lobe Activation During Object Permanence’ published in a scientific journal.”

[From my post Gifted Child, Uncommon Adult: Natalie Portman.]

Natalie Portman in her 2015 Harvard Commencement Speech:

“I have to admit that even twelve years after graduation I’m still insecure about my own worthiness.”

“Sometimes your insecurities and your inexperience may lead you to you to embrace other people’s expectations, standards or values. But you can harness that inexperience to carve out your own path, one that is free of the burden of knowing how things are supposed to be.”


Are All Creative People Insecure?

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2015). Are All Creative People Insecure?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Jul 2015
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