Britney Spears has been in the public eye since childhood, but the late aughts were especially difficult for the "Perfume" singer. In the Fall 2013/Winter 2014 issue of Vegas Player magazine, the pop princess speaks candidly about her struggles in the spotlight and her desire for privacy.
"It was kind of like a dream," the 31-year-old performer says of her early days in the music business. "I'm from a small town [Kentwood, La.] and I wasn't expecting anything. When it happened, it was kind of surreal. I got so busy traveling that I was oblivious to it all. I didn't even realize what was happening. It was like a dream that I never woke up from. It was pretty spectacular."
Spears says it's easy to get swept up in the moment and lose sight of what really matters. "It's important to have a group of people around you who can keep you down to earth. It's a mind-altering experience when you become a pop star at such a young age," she says. "Some people are made for it and some people aren't. If you keep good friends around you and stay grounded, you'll be ok."
Since her debut album was released in January 1999, the Grammy winner has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, starred in a feature film and judged a TV talent competition. Still, Spears says it's been difficult to embrace her superstar status.
"This is the thing: I'm actually really shy. I don't like having my picture taken. I don't like the attention, but it's something that comes with success," she says. "I've accepted the paparazzi are going to be there; I just try to wear the same thing every day so I become uninteresting."
Spears adds that she "never" reads tabloid stories regarding her personal life. "I know there is rude stuff out there, but I choose not to be a part of it," she explains. "It's all kind of silly."
Instead, the "Work Bitch" singer is focused on the next phase of her career—which just so happens to include a two-year residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. "When you tour, it's so hard on the body," Spears says. "I look back and I don't know how I did it. Being in one place is cool. It's a more stable environment."
"Las Vegas is a fun place," she adds. "There is so much going on. The energy here is incredible. You feel it walking through the casino. Everybody is here to have a good time."