Why Billie Eilish Felt Like a ‘Failure’ at 12 Years Old

Why Billie Eilish Felt Like a ‘Failure’ at 12 Years Old

Billie Eilish was depressed after seeing a Broadway production a decade ago and convinced she wouldn’t “amount to anything.” The now 22-year-old songwriter watched the musical Matilda at the time and thought she needed to achieve more.

“I remember being 12, believe it or not, and seeing this musical and sobbing my eyes out and thinking, ‘Damn, I’m a failure, and I won’t be able to have a career.’ I was 12,” recalled Eilish at the Oscars press room after she accepted her second Academy Award for her Barbie song, “What Was I Made For?” “I was bawling, back in the nosebleeds, and I was like, ‘I’m never going to amount to anything because I’m not in Matilda.'”


#BillieEilish is so inspiring! #billie #barbie #oscars #academyawards

♬ Lazy Sunday – Official Sound Studio

Despite her successful career, Eilish gave some advice to those concerned about the relative pace of success for the future of their own career. “Give yourself some time, and do what you love,” she said during the Oscars press conference. “I know that’s easier said than done.”

Just two years earlier, Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell won an Academy Award for “No Time to Die” from the James Bond film of the same title. “I had a nightmare about this last night,” Eilish told the audience at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles when accepting her award Sunday night. “I just didn’t think this would happen. I was not expecting this. I feel so incredibly lucky and honored.”

In her remarks, after thanking Barbie director Greta Gerwig, she said, “I’m so grateful for this song and for this movie and the way that it made me feel, and this goes out to everyone who was affected by the movie and how incredible it is.”

In addition to winning the Academy Award, “What Was I Made For?” has also been honored with a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Song Written for Visual Media.

While Eilish has nine Grammys and two Golden Globes to her name, only one of her tracks—”Bad Guy”—held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 2019, where it stayed for a week.

However, as Eilish told the Oscars press, she’s learned that success has more than one meaning. “Don’t do it for other people. Don’t do it for numbers or some sort of specific fame. That’s just not ever something that I think anyone should be moving forward. And I want everyone to be doing something that they feel passionate about and that they feel proud of and that makes them feel like [the] best version of themselves.”


Back to top