For Janet Jackson, happiness hasn’t been a state of mind, but a search. “When it comes to happiness, I’m no expert. I have only my life experiences as a guide. I’ve known great happiness and I’ve known great sadness,” the “Control” singer confesses in an honest letter penned for ESSENCE magazine.
Jackson touches on every stage in her life starting from childhood, talking about what made her happy in each life stage. “I was happy when my brothers came home from performing on the road. But I wasn’t happy with the way I looked,” she admits, adding that while in her teens, “happiness came when people asked me to perform. I was happiest when pleasing others and not myself.”
Later in her twenties, Jackson “found her voice as an artist,” but says that “feelings of unworthiness haunted me. I had not rooted out the damage done by perfectionism. I was still comparing myself to others.”
Jackson struggled even more in her thirties. “These were difficult years, when I struggled with depression. The struggle was intense. I could analyze the source of my depression forever,” she writes. The term “happiness” then changed to more simple things for Jackson in her forties:”Happiness was elusive. A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy.”
Now, at 52, Jackson says that most importantly, she has “found happiness with my relationship with myself and God. That happiness is grounded in the moment.” The root of her happiness not only stems from her faith, but from the beauty of “holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo.”
The full heartfelt letter will be featured in the July/August issue of ESSENCE, available June 22. Jackson will also be headlining the 2018 ESSENCE Festival on July 8 in New Orleans.