Feel Worthless? Don’t Believe It. God Doesn’t, and These Seven Celebs Didn’t, Either.

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The word is perhaps the most corrosive in the English language. We let somebody down. Or sometimes, we can feel that way for no reason at all, other than someone tells us we should feel that way. 

Unfortunately, that sense of worthlessness can be particularly strong when we’re young—when we’re kids looking for the approval of our friends and peers, when we’re teens looking for likes on social media. When children hear the word worthless, they’re more likely to believe it. Study after study shows us that depression among youth is skyrocketing, and depression is often wrapped up in a person’s lack of self-worth.

But God tells us that we’re priceless, not worthless, no matter what the world says. And when He tells us that we’re valued beyond measure, it has nothing to do with how much we’ve achieved or how good our grades are or how popular we are.

But sometimes, it’s also good to get a few reminders that the world—even by the world’s own standards—can be flat-out wrong.

So for anyone who feels perhaps a little worthless today, take a look at these few examples of celebs who were told they were worthless, too—and they just didn’t listen.


Walt Disney

Before he created Mickey Mouse and directed Snow White and founded what is arguably today’s most influential entertainment empire, Walt Disney was fired from The Kansas City Star newspaper because, according to his editor at the time, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Ironically, in 1996, Disney bought ABC, which owned the Star.

Lucille Ball

We all love Lucy. And even though she died in 1989, her legacy lives on. Why, part of her life is being documented this year in Being the Ricardos. But at the John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts, she was told he had, according to Medium.com, “no talent and no ability to act,” and she’d be better off quitting. “All I learned in drama school was how to be frightened,” she later said. For more than 20 years, she worked at proving her critics wrong—tenacity that paid off in 1951, when I Love Lucy hit a new medium called television.

Lucille Ball
Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

Worthless? That’s what van Gogh’s paintings were for his entire career. Some say that he sold just one painting during his entire life: “The Red Vineyards” for 400 Belgian francs in 1890, which translated to less than $100 back in the day. It’s hard to say how much that painting would be worth today, but you can bet it’d be around $100 million. (In 1990, van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” sold at auction for $82.5 million—and would likely fetch in excess of $150 million today.)

Steven Spielberg

He’s won Oscars and directed some of America’s best-known and most-beloved movies, from Jaws to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to Saving Private Ryan. But when Spielberg was looking to learn the craft of moviemaking, the University of Southern California’s film school couldn’t be bothered. Spielberg applied for the prestigious school three times and was rejected all three. No hard feelings, though. In 2009, a building at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts was named in his honor.

Steven Spielberg
Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver

Her acting career has spawned six decades now, and she’s done pretty much everything. But when she was attending the Yale University, her acting teachers initially called her “talentless.” They backed off that assessment a bit later. According to Weaver in a New York Times interview, “They said, ‘We take it back, but you can only do comedy—don’t every try to do any drama.’”

Harrison Ford

“You’ll never make it in this business,” one studio official told Ford, according to the actor himself. And he very nearly didn’t. Working in Hollywood in the mid-1960s, Ford acted as a contract player for just $150 a week. To supplement his income, he worked as a carpenter. In fact, he was doing a little carpentry work in the office of director Francis Ford Coppola when a guy named George Lucas saw him and invited him to audition for a little movie that was eventually called Star Wars.

Harrison Ford
Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Many believe the future president of the United States suffered from depression himself, and he certainly suffered a much-chronicled litany of failure. He bought a general store, which failed. He lost far more elections (including two for a U.S. Senate seat) than he won. And even when he did win the Presidency, he did so with less than 40% of the popular vote. But most of the country came around in the end. It’s not every President who lands on official U.S. currency, after all.Worthless. Sometimes we can feel that way. And parents should be especially mindful of their children who might think that of themselves. But God never calls us that. And we shouldn’t either.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

One Response

  1. -Great comments re “worthless.” Minor, minor point: the Sigourney Weaver section used “spawned” when clearly meant “spannned.” Poor handwringing? Incorrect autocorrect?

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