SZA admits life in the spotlight can often be exhausting—so much so that she’s contemplated leaving it all behind for a bucolic life.
“So many times I’m like, ‘Damn, I’m about to go be a farmer. My contract is about to expire, I might as well be a farmer,’” she said during the 100th episode of the Community Voices series. “Because the pressure of dropping another album, making sure my deals make sense [...] building this life is way harder than abdicating my responsibility [as an artist].”
The episode, which aired in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, came less than two weeks after SZA deleted her TikTok account. The 32-year-old artist urged others to follow suit: “delete anything, anyone, and everything that doesn’t serve you,” she wrote on Instagram. SZA expanded on social media’s toxic nature during her Community Voices sit-down.
“It’s weird sometimes, when your personal thoughts and feelings align with some of the things people say about you,” she said about trolls. “It’s like, ‘Damn. I think this about myself? I don’t know if this person is so wrong.’ It’s weird, because then it’s like, ‘Damn, what’s wrong with me?’ It’s tough. It’s hard not to fall into that weird hole of self-loathing.”
SZA went on to say that the negative comments she receives online also make her question whether she’s cut out for fame. She recalled reading some of the hate other celebrities have received, and wondered whether she her skin was simply too thin.
She also spoke about her appearance the Met Gala earlier this month, revealing she felt unconfident and uncomfortable during the event.
“I hated my outfit,” she said. “It’s really unhealthy. I snuck out the back, as soon as Lenny Kravitz hit the stage [...] I couldn’t even walk down the main steps to exit. I took a cab. I walked three city blocks with no shoes on … and I just tiptoed a couple blocks and caught a yellow cab back to my hotel, because I was just overwhelmed. I had too much anxiety to wait for my cab in front of the crowd.”
SZA said she has several methods for coping with anxiety and stress: going outside for physical activity, praying, and creating music.
“It’s exhausting,” she said about working in a “psychosis-inducing industry.” “The physical exhaustion, the mental exhaustion does not come from making music. I love making music. I love creating. It’s kind of my own source of therapy and meditation, but the exhaustion really comes from expectations, berating, and dehumanizing from outside forces. And that shit makes me feel like, ‘Why am I doing this? Why would I set myself up to be bodied like this on a regular basis?’”
She said her feelings toward recording have significantly changed. She once dreaded going into the studio because she always felt pressured to create “something that’s hot.”
“I have really high expectations for myself, so if I’m doing something wack, it’s like, ‘I don’t wanna be here,’” she explained. “I started focusing on creation and chasing that lightbulb moment where I’m, like ‘Oh, this makes sense … or this shit kind of honest.’ I keep moving in that direction and letting it snowball.”
You can listen to SZA’s full Community Voices episode below. The Finish Line Youth Foundation, which presents the series, will make a $30,000 donation to the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) on SZA’s behalf.