Actress/ethereal goddess Anne Hathaway may seem as though she has a perfect life. As an Oscar winner, one of Hollywood’s best dressed, and the namesake of William Shakespeare’s wife, Hathaway seems to reside on an ethereal cloud where merry minstrels sing poetry and everyone wears couture.
But Hathaway has had her fair share of hard times, partly because of backlash from audience members who think she’s too perfect. Especially after her 2013 Academy Award for “Les Misérables,” the same passion and determination that drove her wave of success became grounds for deep, petty abhorrence by critics.
As she faced constant vilification, there was little Hathaway could do to reroute the narrative. After all, the main complaint people had was that she tried too hard. And so if she worked to put out the fire, it would only stoke the flames.
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“It strikes me that perhaps the reason for the ire once directed at her is not that we as a society don’t like her but that we as a society should be more like her,” writer Elizabeth Holmes penned in a recent profile for Town and Country Magazine.
On top of her own personal struggles, Hathaway is a champion for the environment, anti-racism efforts and social movements such as Time’s Up, all of which add another layer of pressure to her plate. And so it makes sense that sometimes the actress gets stressed. But instead of taking to social media to vent as other stars do, Hathaway has a more intimate way of dealing with her feelings.
“Set a timer on your phone, have a candle nearby, and write it all down,” Hathaway told Holmes. “You spew it all out. You do not read it.”
After 12 minutes of writing, “The timer goes off, you tear it out of the book, and you light it on fire,” Hathaway said. “Literally on fire. All of this energy, this angst, this rage — everything is smoke.”
Though this particular stress reliever may be somewhat unconventional, it’s a refreshing take on how to experience feelings without unleashing them onto the world. In an age of oversharing, Hathaway’s professionalism and self-control distinguish her as one of the few people in the spotlight who model prudent and always respectful behavior.
Hathaway can be witty, or even sometimes personal. But instead of falling into the tropes of viral celebrity, she handles herself with grace and poise at every turn. And when she needs to say a few words, she writes them down and burns them to ashes, where no one will ever see them.
So perhaps it’s worth taking a page out of Hathaway’s journal and keeping our emotions to ourselves. It’s not good to hold them in forever. But it’s also not healthy to share them with the world and live for audience reaction. Instead, we’ll find a quiet corner with a pen, a candle, and a timer — and then, we’ll write.
This article was originally published on January 9, 2019.
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