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AP; Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME

I think a lot about the dangers of success and the curse of being considered a prodigy. Success can grant access, control, and the power to have choices in the work that you do, but any confirmation from the outside world that you’ve “made it” is inconsequential if you are not fulfilled by what you’ve made, on your own.

When I was younger, I took other people’s opinions more seriously. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned that no one really knows what they’re talking about. You can’t control how other people react to you—and it’s dangerous to give them that much power. Now when I create something that I’m proud of, I don’t care whether people like it because the people who do identify with it really identify with it.

I feel most successful when I can be creative and say what I mean. It’s the closest thing I have to what it felt like to be a child, or what it might feel like to be religious and really believe in something. I do everything I can to protect that feeling I get when I’m working on something I love, and I try not to let the technical part of doing what I do for a living get in the way of why I love doing it.

Gevinson is a writer, actress and editor of

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