Hailee Steinfeld became a pop star by cleverly toying with the balance of work and play. “Love Myself,” her first hit single, is, after all, rumored to be about both self-empowerment and sexuality. Its 2015 release added singer to Steinfeld’s already-impressive résumé, which includes an Academy Award nomination for her performance in the film True Grit and a Golden Globe nod for her role in the coming-of-age movie The Edge of Seventeen. Since, Steinfeld has released more chart-topping music and picked up huge roles in feature films. This summer, she’s on tour with Charlie Puth. But let’s not forget: somewhere along the way, she also finished high school.
She makes it look easy—but that doesn’t mean it always is. Steinfeld is transparent when it comes to her everyday struggles. “I’m on tour right now, and even then, in that sort of routine, I still have moments,” Steinfeld tells SELF. “I know I’ve got to be on stage in an hour, but then it feels like the snap of a finger and it’s two minutes away. You’re panicking, you’re freaking out, and it feels like everything’s not in place, but it is. It’s like an anxiety attack. It happens all the time.”
To stay grounded, Steinfeld relies on simple routines.
When it comes to staying clear-headed in the short term, she tries to take time for herself, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. She’s big on the little things that give her room to breathe, like zoning out while listening to music, shutting off her phone, taking a walk, or sleeping an extra hour. Steinfeld is quick to laugh at her own imperfections and unabashed in admitting that it is not a high-end massage or a shopping spree that helps her de-stress after a rough week, but a little bit of makeup. As for the single product she always keeps handy? “Concealer,” she says. “Under-eye concealer.”
She describes herself as a “major goal person,” in that she loves setting them—and then writing all of them down.
To keep things organized, she collects notebooks: “I have more notebooks than anybody, ever.” Steinfeld also likes to keep a pack of Post-it notes handy, especially the avocado-shaped ones. (SELF had the opportunity to speak with Steinfeld as part of her partnership with Post-it Brand to promote the company’s back-to-school campaign.)
Though she has checked off a remarkable number of goals already—Acting? Check. Singing? Check. High school? Check.—she hasn’t done it alone. “I felt very lucky to have the support of those around me—especially when it came to after school activities, acting lessons, and vocal lessons,” Steinfeld says. With the right support system, she says, balancing your creative passions with your math homework is doable. It isn’t easy—that’s for sure—but it is possible.
When in doubt, Steinfeld falls back on simple, classic advice.
If there’s one thing she’s learned from her success it’s that following your dreams is always worth it—even when it seems impossible or scary. “Only you know what’s best for you,” she says. “If it’s something that makes you happy, then it can never be the wrong thing.”
When asked what she wished she knew when she was 16, Steinfeld says, “You shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. Things do get better if you stay positive and keep going.” Then, she laughs. “But I’m only 21 now. I feel like I’m still in the stage of my life where small things are a big deal. Right?”