In the three-minute video below, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield talks about growing up with and overcoming his fear of responsibility and how that has played a part in his recovery from drug addiction. Hetfield also shares his views on what it means to be a role model and what he tells young people when they ask him for advice.
Hetfield says: “I’ve been afraid of responsibility my whole life… not wanting to take responsibility for myself.
“I remember as a kid in school… There was a summer school for gifted kids… which, for me, was weird already. Gifted… yeah! [Laughs] And then going to summer school ’cause you’re gifted. Wait a minute! You’re gifted. You shouldn’t have to go to summer school. But going to a summer school for gifted kids. Okay. It was around film. This was elementary school, by the way. And getting into film. It was, like, ‘You’re gonna make a film. Okay, get into groups and then come together with an idea and what you wanna do.’ So I was, like, ‘Oh, okay.’ We get into groups together and then I was, ‘Hey, how about we do this?’ and [I had] all these ideas. And then they said, ‘Okay now, choose your leader who’s gonna be leading this group and who’s responsible for the stuff.’ And I shrunk, man. I got scared. And the rest of the group was, like, ‘Well, you’re the leader, ’cause you had all the ideas and all this.’ And I was, like, ‘No no no.’ And I totally… I bailed on it. I bailed, ’cause I was afraid of responsibility — afraid of failure, maybe, afraid that I didn’t know what I was really doing.
He continued: “And that’s kind of what it’s like for me in recovery at times — afraid to take on responsibility of sponees or something, or allowing myself to stand up and shine in that way.”
Hetfield added: “Another fear of me: my turning 50. I’m supposed to know everything. I’m supposed to sit down there and be a role model and teach everybody all the stuff. And when you think you’re a role model, guess what?! You’re not. If you’re trying to be a role model, you’re not. Being yourself and the best self you can be? Then maybe you’ll be a role model to somebody.”
The Hetfield video was produced by Road Recovery, an organization dedicated to helping young people battle addiction and other adversities, in partnership with Hooplaha.