Maggie Gyllenhaal's Aha! Moment: How I Learned to Trust My Own Instincts
It took me a while—and it's an ongoing challenge, to be honest—to stop seeking approval. But one day, and this might sound cheesy, I took my daughter, Ramona, to see the new Muppets movie. There's a part where Kermit the Frog says, "Maybe you don't need the whole world to love you, you know? Maybe you just need one person." When I heard that, I started crying. There's just so much pressure to be a great mother, wife, friend, actress, or whatever your job may be. If some aspect of you wants everyone to universally love and understand you and approve of everything you do—well, that's a sad life. You'll bend yourself into a pretzel trying to be all these things you think you're supposed to be.
These days I'm better at saying, Wait a minute. It's all right if others don't approve, because I believe in what I'm doing. I've found some strategies that help. A friend of mine, Emma, once told me, "You're going to drop the ball sometimes. That's how it goes." This is a person who's not constantly trying to please everyone or afraid of making mistakes—she just lives her life. So now I think, What would Emma do? A year ago, I even did another play at the same theater with many of the same people, and this time I felt so much stronger. I thought, This is my work. I'm doing the best I can. I know not everyone will love it—and that is fine.
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