Selena Gomez Talks Dumping the Internet, Supporting Demi Lovato & Feeling 'The Best I've Ever Felt'

Selena Gomez has been making some major changes in her life lately: moving from Los Angeles to the more suburban Orange County with a friend, working to sell her $3 million Fort Worth, Texas, mansion and interning at a non-profit. Yes, the most-followed person on Instagram is putting in volunteer hours at the global anti-human-trafficking nonprofit A21, where Gomez tells Elle magazine in a new feature that she has found a sense of purpose and pride in giving back. 

"I wasn't going to immediately start discussing it. It's out of my comfort zone. I need to be fully immersed in it," she tells the mag in a story set to his newsstands on Sept. 25, in which she opens up about the positive changes in her life. Gomez, 26, is careful to add that she's not publicly talking about her volunteer gig -- which she's been at since March -- for the applause, but because after visiting A21 and learning about the horrors of modern sexual slavery and human trafficking she was "flabbergasted."

The singer opens up about her upcoming album, reaching out to friend Demi Lovato and what it feels like to be 26. "I think everything in my life is being majorly downsized, in a very good way,” she says of leaving "claustrophobic" Los Angeles, selling her Calabasas estate to French Montana and unloading her Studio City bungalow. “I’m going back to simplicity. That’s always who I’ve been. It’s not me saying, ‘I feel the best I’ve ever felt.' It’s me saying, ‘I’m exactly where I am. And I’m so happy I’m in this place.’ It’s a lot of self-discovery. From 20 to 26? Oh my gosh. I feel like a totally different person.”

Gomez explains that after a long period of doing things because she felt she had to, she's started doing things that validate her as a person, realizing that her worth is more than the things she owns.

Gomez began her work at A21 following a difficult 2017, during which she received a life-saving kidney transplant as part of her ongoing battle with the autoimmune disease lupus and had a very public breakup with The Weeknd. Helping to shepherd her through that rough patch was a group of "amazing women" who she feels very close to.

"It was kind of a rough moment. And I just had all of them there, encouraging me, and it was one of those moments that you imagine when you’re a young girl and you go talk to your aunts and your mom and you’re like, This is what’s going on in my life," the "Back to You" singer says of the period where she was cramming to finish the album, which could be out this fall. “I had been working for so long, and I don’t like taking things in my life. I just wanted to serve.”

That led to her joining the team at A21, where she sometimes volunteers as many as five times a week -- which has also helped her feel completely at peace for the first time in a while. "Right now I feel very sure of where I am," she says. "I don't feel erratic or emotionally unstable. Or like I can't handle my emotions, like I used to. It's kind of understanding myself a little more." Part of that refresh came from pulling back from social media, with Gomez claiming she hasn't been on the internet in "months" and that she doesn't even have any apps on her phone anymore or the password for her Instagram account.

After a picture of her looking distraught appeared online in the wake of friend Demi Lovato's reported overdose on July 24, the magazine asks Gomez how she feels about what is then a still-fresh emotional moment. "All I'm saying is, I reached out personally," she says, reportedly getting choked up as she thinks about Lovato's struggles. "I didn't do a public thing. I didn't want to... I love her. I've known her since I was 7. So... it's... that's what I'll say." 

In a recent live stream, Gomez said she's almost done with the follow-up to 2015's Revival, after keeping fans dancing all along with the stand-alone songs "Bad Liar" and "Fetish," plus the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack cut "Back to You" and a feature on Marshmello's "Wolves."

Describing the music as "funky," then cueing up a song that is described as "more like Prince than something from the girl who cooed, 'Come and get it,'" the magazine promises a new sound for the upcoming album. And though she declines to talk about her love life in specifics, the writer notes that Gomez appears to borrowing a page from pal Taylor Swift's songbook and letting her music do the talking in a song in which she sings about getting rid of a man after "1,460 days" and "cleaning my slate." The rest of the lyrics are just as pointed, including "Without you/ I don't overthink it... I'm drunk and I might as well tell you, Get you ooh ooh ooh out of my head now." 

Click here to read the full Elle cover story.