Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Muppets Movie, and Believing in Yourself

Pardon the lack of updates… My computer’s hard drive came thisclose to completely crashing (and I still needed a new one). I was able to salvage my photos and podcats, and everything else of value exists on the internet. However, I can’t remember our home’s wireless network password, so I’m stealing internet access where I can get it.

But you know, this makeshift workspace has some excellent views…

Bethlehem Steel

Just last week, Ryan and I finally got to see The Muppet Movie, the new one. OH GOODNESS HEAVENS ABOVE, I CRIED SO MANY TIMES. Happy cry, sad cry, nostalgia cry, I-know-what-that-feels-like cry, people working together and isn’t it all so beautiful cry, crying-cause-you’re-already-crying cry… Tears were flowing. A box or two of tissues later, I did find it to be incredibly uplifting, and true to form, some excellent life lessons were tucked in along the way.

The next day, I was reading the new issue of Oprah magazine. Don’t laugh, I think she’s incredible. In 10th grade English class I did a project about her, and my teacher called me “Oprah” until I graduated. Growing up, my mom would always tell me, “Some day when she’s no longer hosting her show, they are going to need a new show to fill that time.” Ahem. Big dreams, that’s all I’m saying. The Muppets can do it, Oprah can do it, I can do it, you can do it. Now, back on track…

I came across an article with an interview of Maggie Gyllenhaal. Don’t you just love when famous women are actually smart and articulate? A rare breed. I’m even more in love with her after reading this, which ties everything together:

“About three years ago, I was in a little off-Broadway play. I thought it was great and was proud of it. But one night after the show, at an audience Q&A session, a guy said, “Don’t worry about The New York Times.” I’d learned never to read reviews, but this confirmed that they must have been bad. And for a couple of days, that slayed me. I’d always thought that if I believed in what I was doing, people would respond well, even if they had different tastes. But at that moment I realized this was simply untrue. Then I thought, Maybe I’m completely wrong about everything. I became so sensitive to others’ opinions that I had a hard time saying, I know I love this, so who cares what everything else thinks?

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 alright if other’s 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.” 

– Maggie Gylenhaal, as told to Crystal G. Martin, Oprah Magazine 2012

 I can say, without a tiny wavering doubt, this has been the biggest lesson for me in the last year. And I think it takes going up against some sort of opposition before you can learn it. It takes some sleepless nights and sick-to-your-stomach days before you can come out the other side and realize one negative opinion doesn’t mean more than your opinion, and your opinion is that you’re doing all you can to be great. Oh. 

Thank you Kermit, Maggie and Oprah.