“When the focus and goal is about yourself, you kind of tend to lose your purpose in that. I think the older that I get the more I realise that I’m not utilising my gift for the right reasons.
“This isn’t about me; it’s about helping someone who’s going through whatever they’re going through and being able to talk about that thing.”
If you haven’t caught YouTube’s recent documentary series Justin Bieber: Seasons, this was what the singer-songwriter said during the first episode. (By the way, that episode broke the record for most-viewed premiere of all the platform’s original content.)
Though not exactly a Bieber fan myself, I appreciate how over the next nine episodes, he shared so candidly about his struggles with physical and mental health.
Revealing a never-seen-before side of himself, Bieber bared his soul about the challenges he faced throughout his career and offered a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his new album, Changes, which was released on Valentine’s Day.
As I watched the series, it was amazing to see the restorative journey that Bieber has embarked on – from his debut age of 13 to the 26-year-old that he is today.
For those who missed it, here are a few defining moments of his life.
THE DRUGS THAT ALMOST KILLED HIM
He was only 12 or 13 when he first smoked weed, right in his own backyard.
In Episode 5, Bieber talks about when and why he started doing drugs and what made him realise it was time to quit for good.
“I got super stoned, and then I realised I liked weed a lot,” Bieber recalls. “And then I started getting dependent on it, and that’s when I realised that I had to stop.”
The pressure that came from media scrutiny soon was too much to bear.
“It was legit crazy scary.”
He says: “There was a time where I was sipping lean. I was popping pills, I was doing molly, um, you know, shrooms, everything. And it was just an escape for me.
“I was just young, like everybody in the industry and people in the world who experiment and do just normal, growing up things. But my experience was in front of cameras, and I had a different level of exposure and people.”
Because of the addictive nature of these substances, the repercussions proved to be serious as Bieber started to run afoul of the law. By the time he was 19, he was making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
His manager Scooter Braun described the ages of 19 to 21 as being “that dark period”.
“My security and stuff were coming into the room at night to check my pulse. People don’t know how serious it got. It was legit crazy scary,” admits Bieber.
In his lowest, Bieber called out to God: “I’m like, ‘God, if You’re real, You get me through this season of stopping these pills and stuff, and if You do, I’ll do the rest of the work.'”
As it turned out, Bieber did get off the pills and has been drug-free since 2014.
Getting to the root of his problems would still be a long road ahead, but he is grateful he now has someone to share it with.
THE MARRIAGE TO HAILEY BALDWIN
In 2018, Bieber reconnected at a Hillsong conference with American model and friend Hailey Baldwin, whom he once dated.
“Justin’s a better man,” says his manager in Episode 8 on how the superstar had changed after meeting Baldwin.
In that same episode, Bieber gives context to a track on his album, “That’s What Love Is”. “That one’s about not everything needs to be physical. It’s like, I love her without even needing to touch her,” he explains.
The couple reportedly abstained from sex until their wedding night because Bieber had made a purity vow after breaking off from his sex addiction.
Their relationship, it seems, is instead built on a common faith and trust in God. “We’ve trusted Him through the really hard stuff and we trust Him in the really good stuff,” says Baldwin.
Bieber shares how getting wedded to a fellow Christ-follower has been a great source of encouragement for him that spurs him on during this tough journey towards restoration.
“Honestly, I’m committed to getting better and committed to doing whatever I have to do, whether it’s inconvenient or not, because I know ultimately it’s not for me. But being the best me is gonna help me be the best husband, the best father, the best friend I can possibly be.”
“We get to do it together.”
It’s clear that Baldwin is not only an inspirational force in his life – she’s one of Bieber’s biggest supporters.
“I get to observe this really amazing part of his life, and this transformation, we get to do it together,” she says in Episode 4.
Baldwin shares: “There’s always gonna be good days and bad days. If you work a nine-to-five job, or if you’re Justin. It doesn’t really matter who you are. Everybody’s gonna have days where they wake up and they feel crappy and they don’t feel like pushing through it that day, but it’s part of life.”
Back in the studio as he is recording the song “Keep on Forgiving Me”, Bieber says: “This one over here, Hailey… every time I do something stupid, she forgives me, so there’s that.”
THE GIFTS THAT HE NOW USES FOR GOOD
With age, Bieber has recognised the greater purpose for his talent too.
Addressing the camera at his doctor’s appointment in Episode 5, he confesses: “I’ve abused my body in the past. And now I’m just in a recovery process, trying to make sure I’m taking care of my body and taking care of the vessel that God’s given me.”
He says: “There are so many people that have gifts and an opportunity to make a change, and they end up either losing it or using their gifts for selfish reasons. And I see so many talented people… it feels like they’re wasting something so precious.
“It’s up to us as individuals to use the gifts that we’ve been given, whatever it may be, to contribute.
“There are people that are going through it with you. Life is worth living. And if you’re not gonna give up, then the only thing to do is to push forward.”
“You can always be grateful for something.”
On Bieber’s route to restoration, he’s learnt that there’s always something to be grateful for.
“We have so many things to be grateful for, so many things to wake up and look at and be like, ‘Oh my gosh’. But you know, we got to make much of what we have. You can always be grateful for something.”
Bieber’s creative director, Ryan Good, sums up the changes he’s seen in his friend nicely: “One thing where he’s really grown and really changed is how he deals with things and how he deals with what he’s feeling; how he deals with anxiety that creeps in.
“He faces it in a very, very different way. He’s not medicating himself. He’s just growing and using the down moments to his advantage and learning.”
It’s apt then that Bieber ends off his title track “Changes” with this line: “People change, circumstances change, but God always remains the same.”
- What mistakes have you made in the past?
- How can you use them as an opportunity for others to relate to?
- Do you have a support circle that you can turn to when the road gets tough?