Lady Gaga Nearly Quit Music But Found a Way Back by Being Honest With Herself


Something in Lady Gaga seems to have changed. One can hear it in her newest music, in her confrontational public statements. Everything she's doing lately seems personal and profound in a way some of her previous works, like the disappointing Artpop and its almost self-parodying promotional campaign, did not. 

Surprisingly, not too long ago she was inches away from quitting music, as she revealed in October during an appearance at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence in New Haven, Connecticut. But she found a way back by confronting herself and finding a way to return to the principles she built her career on — primarily a sense of emotional honesty.


"OK, Stefani/Gaga hybrid person: 'Why are you unhappy?' she asks herself during her talk. "'Why is that you wanted to quit music a couple years ago?'"

Her answer: She was tired of being a prop instead of an artist. "I really don't like selling these fragrances, perfumes," she said. "I don't like wasting my time spending days just shaking people's hands and smiling and taking selfies. It feels shallow to my existence. I have a lot more to offer than my image. 

"I don't like being used to make people money. I feel sad when I'm overworked, and I just become a money-making machine and my passion and my creativity takes a back seat."


Stefani Germanotta created her Lady Gaga persona in order to escape these feelings of emptiness and depression. "I invented myself, Lady Gaga — I curated my life to be an expression of my pain," she said in the speech. "This is how I overcame my depression ... by creating somebody that I felt was stronger than me."

Remembering and realizing that strength, Gaga started to seeing hope in music again.

"So what did I do?" she said. "I started to say no. 'I'm not doing that. I'm not taking that picture. I'm not going to that event. I'm not standing by that because that's not what I stand for.' And slowly but surely, I remembered who I am. And then you go home and you look in the mirror and you're like, 'Yes, I can go to bed with you every night.' Because that person, I know that person. That person has balls; that person has integrity."

This process of finding one's integrity and harnessing it to regain their confidence makes up the backbone of the #IAMNOTJUST campaign Gaga is running on Instagram and Twitter through her Born This Way foundation. She asked fans to follow her lead in filling in the "I am not just _____" blank, sharing stories about overcoming the afflictions and anxieties that confine them.

Her discussion at Yale provides the perfect personal underpinning to encourage her fans to face their own anxieties. It also offers some evidence that the new Gaga is in full control of her creative powers once again. 

Watch the full talk below.

Get more stories that help you rethink the world by signing up for our daily email newsletter.