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SZA might be ruling the R&B world these days, but she wasn’t always viewed as the cream of the crop by her peers — particularly in high school.
The TDE singer opened up about being bullied while growing up in New Jersey in an interview with PEOPLE.
Although she described the experience as “shitty,” SZA said she’s thankful because her unwillingness to fit in is what partly pushed her to become the star she’s evolved into today.
“I was bullied because I wasn’t quiet and I was awkward at the same time,” the 33-year-old said. “I wasn’t this tiny sad victim, but I was more so attacked just because it was giving ‘What is wrong with you?’ energy.
“I always thought, ‘Oh my God.’ I’ll never have the approval of anyone in life, this must be my defining factor, this must be the bottom line.”
Solana admitted that she didn’t have many friends in high school and didn’t even attend prom due to a lack of a date, which makes her current celebrity status even more remarkable.
“I realized that all the things that made me feel so lame were actually what made me into who I am,” she added. “It’s like, I didn’t go to prom because I didn’t have any friends and I had no one to go to prom with … [and now] it’s so weird that my life turned into [having] a bodyguard while traveling to parties.
“All these things, if I had such a fulfilling existence and experience in high school, I would’ve felt validated to the point where I didn’t need to do anymore. [So] I just had to do more, I had to be more because I was like, ‘This shitty experience can’t be the end of it because if it is, I am cooked.’”
SZA returned with her long-awaited sophomore album SOS in December, which entered 2023 spending a third straight week atop the Billboard 200 chart.
The project — which features Travis Scott, Don Toliver, the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard and more — moved an additional 128,000 units in the past week, pushing its total to over 600,000. This means it’s eligible for gold certification after less than a month.
The TDE superstar is taking her show on the road for her first-ever arena trek this spring. The SOS Tour kicks off in Columbus, Ohio on February 21 and will stop in cities such as Chicago, Toronto, Boston, New York, Atlanta and Dallas before wrapping up in Los Angeles on March 22.