Natalie Portman got super-real about facing “dark times” during her college years
We’re still glowing with happiness over the news that Academy Award-winning Natalie Portman will be playing both Ruth Bader Ginsburg AND Jackie Kennedy in two upcoming biopics. Happy days! Can Natalie do no wrong? With all of her majorly amazing success in the film industry, it’s easy to think that Natalie Portman is living the golden life. But, while giving a commencement address this week, Natalie got heartbreakingly real about facing “dark times” during her college career. We are so thankful for her honesty.
Natalie graduated from Harvard University in 2003, and on Wednesday she gave an absolutely amazing commencement speech to the Harvard graduating class of 2015. During her commencement address she bared a whole lot and spilled pieces of her soul to the crowd in a way that was both honest and comforting. As the graduating students faced the excitement, insecurities, fears, and hopes that come along with commencement, it was likely incredibly comforting to hear that even someone so professionally successful faces doubts and dark times too. “I have to admit that today, even 12 years after graduation, I’m still insecure about my own worthiness,” Natalie told the graduating seniors. “I have to remind myself today, ‘You are here for a reason.’”
“When I came in as a freshman in 1999, I felt like there had been some mistake,” she explained. “That I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, that every time I opened my mouth, I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”
She also alluded to battling depression, explaining to the crowd, “It’s easy now to romanticize my time here, but I had some very difficult times here too.” She continued, “Some combination of being 19, dealing with my first heartbreak, taking birth control pills that have since been taken off the market for their depressive side effects, and spending too much time missing daylight during winter months led me to some pretty dark moments, particularly during sophomore year.”
For many students, college can seem like an insurmountable obstacle, with workloads piling and pressure all the way up to your eyeballs. Being famous did not make Natalie immune to those issues. “There were several occasions I started crying in meetings with professors, overwhelmed with what I was supposed to pull off, when I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning,” she told the graduating seniors.
A massive issue she faced was dealing with the intense confidence of so many of the students and feeling as though she could never measure up. “I believed every one of them,” she said of students who aspired to be president. “Their . . . self-confidence alone seemed proof of their prophecy where I couldn’t shake my self-doubt. I got in only because I was famous; this is how others saw me, it was how I saw myself.”
Natalie also dropped some truth bombs on the audience about how she grew from these feelings of doubt and worthlessness. “You can never be the best,” she told the crowd. “The only thing you can be the best at is developing your own self. Make use of the fact that you don’t doubt yourself too much right now. As we get older we get more realistic, and that realism does us no favors.”
We for one are so thankful for the honesty in Natalie’s speech. We are totally wowed by this amazingly talented actress who has still remained humble and beautifully relatable even in the face of all of her success. Natalie, thank you for using your dark times to touch the minds of frightened graduates who may be going through similar feelings. There is no doubt you spoke directly to the hearts of many people in the crowd. You definitely spoke to ours.
Check out the entire 20-minute commencement speech below. The whole entire thing is now our new mantra.