In an ESSENCE cover story exclusive, music icon Janet Jackson pens a deeply intimate message to Black women for the magazine’s first-ever “Happiness” issue. In Letter From My Heart, the artist reveals herself like never before—connecting with the audience as she shares her personal journey to finding joy and happiness in her life.
In the essay, Jackson shares with her “ESSENCE Sistas” some of the lessons she learned from her childhood to adulthood—including her early struggles with depression, low self-esteem and failed relationships to her eventual growth as an artist, discovery of peace and learning to “fully embrace God’s love.” She shares:
In Her Childhood: “I was happy when my brothers came home from performing on the road. I was happy when my mother lavished me with love. But I wasn’t happy with the way I looked…”
In Her Teens: “Happiness came when people asked me to perform…but I was happiest when I was pleasing others and not myself. An older and wiser Janet might have said, ‘True happiness is knowing you’re doing the best you can…’”
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. Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards. And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism. Put it all together and depression is a tenacious and scary condition. Thankfully, I found my way way through it…”
Today, at 52: “Now the height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo, or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness. When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere. Happiness is in gratitude to God…”