Maria Shriver had a childhood of great privilege but little privacy, says Oprah Winfrey in O magazine. The daughter of JFK’s sister Eunice Kennedy and Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver says that life in the Kennedy clan was almost surreal. “When you grow up in a political family, you’re trotted out a lot, and you’re never exactly clear what you’re doing. You’re in a political pamphlet, in a commercial, at an event. The adults ran the whole thing. I was conscious of being in a large family with a hierarchy. The most terrifying thing of all for me was to just sit with myself. I didn’t know how to be alone.” As Shriver, now 52, saw members of her Kennedy generation getting elected to Congress and carrying on the legacy, the pressure was enormous. “When you come from a family that has achieved so much, you’re left with the challenge of either making peace with that, or finding some way to do what you want to do. It’s impossible to compete with that level of accomplishment.” So she decided to avoid politics and went into broadcast journalism—the first in her family to do so. But later, when her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, became governor of California, she gave up journalism and once again took on a political role, as California’s first lady. Public life feels more comfortable this time, because the choice was hers. “For the first time, I can actually say that I’m right where I want to be.”
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How Maria Shriver found her niche
June 4, 2008
of The Week magazine.