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“Inside I’m terrified” Jennifer Lawrence on coping with anxiety and self-doubt

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“O.K., get ahold of yourself, Jennifer. This is not therapy,” Lawrence says to herself. 

But that's what her hour-long interview with The New York Times reporter Brook Barnes turned into. 

Since landing the career-defining role of The Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen in 2011 and being thrown into the height of Hollywood fame (she's the highest paid actress in the world), the star says she's suffered a mix of anxiety and self-doubt. 

“I’m so scared to say anything now. I can see every negative way that people can take it, and I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. “Oh, she’s so conceited now. Oh, she’s so jaded now.’

“It probably comes from Googling myself. If it were up to me, I would not talk. I would just act,” she continues. “You try being 22, having a period and staying away from Google. I once Googled ‘Jennifer Lawrence Ugly.’

“I can’t think of a more wasteful use of my time than to worry about this. Why do I care what people think? But I do. I just can’t pretend I don’t care. I get really insecure about it. The world makes an opinion of you without ever meeting you. That worry should not bother me, but it does. It bothers me.

“I’m going to leave here and think, Oh God, why couldn’t I just have been cool and confident?”

Jennifer Lawrence with Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth at The Hunger Games premiere in 2012

Jennifer Lawrence with Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth at The Hunger Games London premiere in 2012

Of course, that's exactly how she appears to her allegiance of fans (and the general public), as she goofs her way through most red carpet events and interviews with a big smile.

But Lawrence says her candid persona is thanks to her tried and tested method for dealing with anxiety.

“I find a certain peace by thinking of me in public as sort of an avatar self. You out there can have the avatar me. I can keep me. And I just try to acknowledge that this scrutiny is stressful, and that anyone would find it stressful. So I’ve got to try to let it go, and try to be myself”

She says she's certainly built up more confidence over the years. “I believe in myself more, and that makes things easier. Early on, you wear clothes you don’t want to wear or say the sound bite you didn’t want to say because you’re afraid to speak up or be rude. And then you start to feel like a puppet. Now I just speak up. “No, I know what my hair looks like when you do that, and I don’t like it. No, we’re not gonna just try it. I’ve already tried it.”” 

In contrast, when she casts her eyes back to four years during the promotional campaign for the first “Hunger Games” movie began, Lawrence says she was a different woman.

“I picture myself drowning. Outwardly, I look like I’m having a blast, and I am, at least on some levels. There I was — burp, burp, burp — just a little gal from Kentucky getting discovered by big ol’ Hollywood. But inside I’m terrified. In an instant — boom — everyone’s listening, everyone’s looking.

“I don’t feel like I’m being dragged by anything anymore. I feel more in control. I’m calmer. I know that there’s no point to feeling anxious all day, so I try not to.”

Read the full interview at nytimes.com.

Images: Rex Features

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