Donny Osmond Recalls First Experiencing Anxiety at Age 12

DONNY AND MARIE, Donny Osmond, 1976-79
Everett Collection

Donny Osmond has built an incredible career over many decades. In the 1970s, he was a teen idol with his face plastered on the walls of many bedrooms and his career was skyrocketing. However, at that time, Osmond recalls that he started having horrible anxiety from the mounting pressure. Later in life, when he was trying to get his career to take off again, he started experiencing anxiety about the unknown.

Osmond explained, “It was horrible. I went through it because, in my opinion, adversity builds strength, if you allow it to. I had lost my career, and I was really trying hard to get back on the charts. ‘Soldier of Love’ hit real big, then ‘Sacred Emotion’ hit real big. And then I did Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I’m doing standing-room-only business, and you would think it would fix it.”

He added about anxiety and high expectations, “It’s all in your mind. [You] think, ‘Oh, this person expects this much out of me, and if I don’t deliver, I’m gonna lose my job, I’m gonna lose my reputation.’ Well, [I thought] I was going to lose my career again if I didn’t give a perfect performance.” Osmond can remember one particular night as an adult when his anxiety reared its ugly head.

THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM VOTE, host Donny Osmond, (Season 1), 2007.

Craig Sjodin/Warner Horizon Television/Everett Collection

He said that he was having such bad anxiety that he didn’t even want to go on stage. He credits his wife for calming him down and saving the show. Osmond shared, “My wife looked at me and said, ‘Why don’t you do yourself a favor and do the audience a favor, and why don’t you go out there tonight and just do an average show?’ It’s the best show I ever did. Because I gave myself license to make a mistake. You don’t want to do too many, because then you have a reputation of not being good. But for a Type A personality, average is pretty darn good.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: Donny Osmond attends the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Mindy Small/Getty Images

Now, Osmond focuses on being kind to himself to keep his anxiety at bay. He tries to accept that he will make mistakes and it is okay to do so. Osmond said that it might be discouraging to some, but he credits doing the inner work to help keep his anxiety from ruining his shows and his life. He said he is also grateful for his wife who helps him balance his work and home life and encourages him to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.

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