(Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images)
SZA is known for leaving her most vulnerable layers in the lyrics of her music, and in a recent interview as part of Finish Line’s Voice of the community series, the R&B singer opened up about her mental health struggles while navigating her career in the music industry.
In light of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Grammy-winning artist has joined the Voice of the community’ 100th episode to discuss the impact being in the public eye has had on his self-perception and confidence over the years.
“It’s the most psychotic industry I can think of,” she said. “There is so much perception, there are so many things being perceived. There’s so much self-validation, [questioning] ‘what’s the reason you’re doing this’, and even if you find your reason, it’s hard to hold on to it.
SZA shared the challenges she faced in becoming herself, while still being held to the expectation of living up to her past work and public perceptions. “This shit is head trip. And it definitely creates this weird bubble of unrealistic expectations, and [it’s] kind of dehumanized feeling, and [feeling like]’maybe I’m a product.’
Although she finds refuge in her creative process, she admits she sometimes wonders if her skin is thick enough for all the scrutiny and online bullying that comes with stardom.
“So many times I’m like, ‘Damn, I’m going to be a farmer. My contract is about to expire, I might as well be a farmer,” she said. “Because the pressure to put out another album, to make sure my deals make sense […] Building this life is much harder than abdicating my responsibility [as an artist].”
She continued, “Physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion doesn’t come from making music. I love making music. I love to create. It’s sort of my own source of therapy and meditation, but the exhaustion really comes from expectations, reprimands and dehumanization from outside forces. And that shit makes me think, ‘Why am I doing this? Why would I manage to be full-bodied like this on a regular basis? »
The “Kiss Me More” artist deleted his popular TikTok in light of Mental Health Awareness Month and told fans at the time, “Stay away from the internet. The internet is evil. I deleted my TikTok for Mental Health Awareness Month. I encourage everyone to delete anything that anyone and anything that doesn’t serve you. Bless.”
Although it has been difficult for the 32-year-old artist to come to terms with the harsh treatment she receives online, she has found a number of outlets that have helped her cope with the daily stressors of life. “I’m an escape artist, so I love getting away,” she said in her interview. “I love going to an island, taking a walk in a local park, or just going to the beach and sitting.” She adds, “I feel like being active, being outdoors, and also praying is really powerful for me.”
SZA ended the transparent conversation on a note of gratitude, adding that she seeks to focus more on her artistry (and her second album) and less on the detractors and negativity.
“I’m just grateful to be able to speak in this space. I’m just trying to keep growing and doing it in front of millions of people; which makes him nervous. I’m just trying to be brave so other people can be brave or maybe they’ll lack empathy and attack me more…I don’t know,” she said. “I just have to do my job in what God designed me to be.”