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Alicia Keys Shares Her Insecurities in Blog

Alicia Keys has a career that spans more than 20 years. She’s won dozens of trophies and topped the Billboard charts numerous times.

But behind all of the accolades, she was “hiding.” Here’s what she had to say:

The songstress, who just released the seize-the-day anthem “28 Thousand Days,” revealed how she’s dealt with self-esteem issues over the year in an intimate blog post exclusively shared with People.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve hidden myself. It might have started in school when I realized that I caught on to things a little quicker, and teachers started to show slight favor to me, or use me as an example. I remember feeling like my friends would make fun of me or look at me as if I was different from them and so … I started hiding. Not intentionally, I didn’t mean to, but I did. Little pieces at a time.

I definitely started hiding when I got old enough to walk down my NY streets alone. I started to notice a drastic difference in how men would relate to me if I had on jeans, or if I had on a skirt, or if my hair was done pretty. I could tell the difference, I could feel the animal instinct in them and it scared me. I didn’t want to be talked to in that way, looked at in that way, whistled after, followed. And so I started hiding. I chose the baggy jeans and timbs, I chose the ponytail and hat, I chose no make up, no bright color lipstick or pretty dresses. I chose to hide. Pieces at a time. Less trouble that way.

I remember feeling that same way when I first started to get recognized as an artist. I had the baggy/braided/tough NY tomboy thing mastered, that was who I was (or who I chose to be) and I felt good there. Then, because of the way I spoke or carried myself, people started calling me gay and hard and I wasn’t gay, but I was hard and although I felt comfortable there, it made me uncomfortable that people were judging me and so slowly I hid that side of myself. I put on dresses and didn’t braid my whole head up, so people could see more of the “real” me, even though at that point I’m sure I was more confused than ever of what the real me was.

Read the full post on People.