Living life in the public eye isn't easy, and Selena Gomez knows this firsthand. But the singer has always stayed focused on one thing: “'You’re going to help people.'"

Look at her now.
Selena Gomez is a singer, actress, producer and makeup mogul. While it may seem like she has it all, her life in the spotlight hasn't been easy. 
"My lupus, my kidney transplant, chemotherapy, having a mental illness, going through very public heartbreaks—these were all things that honestly should have taken me down," the 29-year-old star told Elle in a very honest interview for September's Latinx issue, which she also guest edited. "Every time I went through something, I was like, ‘What else? What else am I going to have to deal with?'"
While Gomez didn't have the answer in the moment, she did know this: "'You're going to help people,'" she remembered saying to herself. "That's really what kept me going. There could have been a time when I wasn't strong enough and would have done something to hurt myself."
At this point, Gomez has been in the spotlight for more than two decades, catapulting into fame after starring on the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place and going on to release several hits, act in and produce a number of film and TV projects (including her new show Only Murders in the Building) and launch her makeup brand Rare Beauty all while raising millions of dollars for important causes.

But living in the public eye presented challenges. "For a while, I felt like an object," Gomez recalled to the magazine. "It felt gross for a long time."

For instance, she'll never forget the rumors that spread after she sought treatment for her mental health in 2014. 
"I don't even know what they really believed I was doing—drugs, alcohol, running around, partying," the artist said. "The narrative was so nasty." 
So, she decided to speak out about her battles with anxiety and depression. And last year, Gomez shared she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
"I felt a huge weight lifted off me when I found out," she told Elle. "I could take a deep
breath and go, 'Okay, that explains so much.'"
In 2015, Gomez shared her lupus diagnosis and over the years, she continued to talk about her health journey, including when she received her kidney transplant in 2017.
Through it all, her relationships and breakups with Justin Bieber and The Weeknd made headlines. And at one point she was the most-followed person on Instagram. While Gomez would occasionally take breaks from social media, she decided to give her assistant access to her passwords in 2017. That way, she could still update her followers but she didn't have to post directly.
"This tiny little phone that had 150 million people on it—I just put it down," she told the publication. "That was such a relief for me."
Now, as she continues to grow her empire and live life on her terms, watch her go.