Getting through adolescence is challenging for many creative people

Many talented and creative people have felt like outsiders, finding their teen years to be socially difficult and emotionally challenging.

“I did not perform well socially in junior high. I was a strange girl and I was in a lot of pain because of that, like most teenagers.” Claire Danes

Many highly talented people like Claire Danes report feeling shy, socially isolated and highly sensitive during adolescence.

In an interview when she was about 15, she said, “I never thought of myself as shy, and then I realized I am kind of shy; I’ve just built defenses to hide it.”

From post: Claire Danes on being shy and high achieving.

Keira KnightleyIn an interview, Keira Knightley declared she was never interested in playing “girl” roles.

“This is a ridiculous thing to say,” she admits, “but I never liked being a teenager. I never felt comfortable being in a group of giggly girls. I always felt embarrassed and frightened by it.

“I couldn’t quite handle the high school thing, and I wanted to leave as soon as I could. So I suppose I never really wanted to explore it, whereas I did want to be a woman. Some of the teen flicks can be great, but it wasn’t the story I wanted to live in.”

She added, “Apart from Natalie Wood’s character in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ [1955], where she plays a teenager, I just couldn’t imagine doing it. I wish I could have. I think I would have been a much better person for it.”

[Interview mag., Dec/Jan 2008; photo from ‘Atonement’]

Maxine Kumin“The passage through adolescence was a lonely, involuted time for me,” said author and poet Maxine Kumin.

“I had no one to eat lunch with, and took my sandwich to the locker room, where I pretended to be busy writing an article… I took refuge in scholarship…

“At Radcliffe, epithets with which I had been branded — bookworm, greasy grind, brain trust — became a badge of honor.”

Radcliffe students 1948[From book by Jane Piirto: My Teeming Brain: Understanding Creative Writers.]

“Maxine Kumin (born in 1925) is an American poet and author. She earned her M.A. in 1948 from Radcliffe College, and was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1981-1982.” [Wikipedia]

[Photo at left: “Interior view of the Women’s Archives, 1948” from The Radcliffe College Archives.]

Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins was dyslexic and hated rugby, and so was treated as an outcast in his native land – but he claims the treatment from his peers gave him just what he needed to become a movie star:

“It gave me the fire and anger to become an actor. I wasn’t afraid of anything. The acting covered up the loneliness.” [ 1.30.01]

As a teen, Nicole Kidman towered above most of the others in her class and has said she thought of herself as “the ugliest person alive on earth.”

On weekends, when most kids were at the beach, Kidman was often alone on the stage of the school theater. “I would just lock myself in there,” she says.

“I thought it was fantastic having that stage all to myself. I’d be teased about going off to the theater instead of the beach with everyone else. I felt like an outsider, but it is character building not to be a pretty child who just bats her eyes and gets her way.”

[Cosmopolitan, Jul 1991]


In high school, Lady Gaga was bullied, even thrown into a trash can.

She said, “I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly in front of huge crowds of people, and my schoolwork suffered at one point. I didn’t want to go to class.

“And I was a straight-A student, so there was a certain point in my high school years where I just couldn’t even focus on class because I was so embarrassed all the time. I was so ashamed of who I was.”

The scars don’t go away, she says. “To this day, some of my closest friends say, ‘Gaga, you know, everything’s great. You’re a singer; your dreams have come true.’ But, still, when certain things are said to you over and over again as you’re growing up, it stays with you and you wonder if they’re true.”

Read about many more creative people in post: Traumatic Childhood, Creative Adult


Nicole Kidman on fame, and actors as highly sensitive people.

Nicole Kidman – a brief profile of high ability and complexity

Gifted and shy – Jane Fonda, Evan Rachel Wood, Nicole Kidman on acting

J.K. Rowling: an ordinary and extraordinary childhood



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