There's nothing holding Shawn Mendes back. (At, least not anymore.)
As he prepares to release his self-titled third studio album Friday, the 19-year-old singer-songwriter is revealing how his struggles with anxiety informed his lead single, "In My Blood." Mendes' anxiety first came to a head around his 18th birthday, in the midst of his first headlining tour. Before dropping "In My Blood," he tells New York, "I was so worried people were going to be like, 'This kid's always sad." Instead, he says, "People I haven't spoken to in years were texting and emailing me being like, 'Dude, this is so important that you did this.'"
A former Vine star, Mendes' rise to the top was swift—so swift, in fact, that his reality became distorted. "I was in such a bad head space. It's so overwhelming to be successful. And that sounds like such a s--tty thing to say. But it's like, how do you keep it going? How do you sustain success when you don't even really know why you're successful? Dude, it was the worst," the singer says. "I'd break down in tears once a week. I used to think everybody was out to get me."
Once the tour ended, Mendes was able to regroup and focus on his issues. Now, to unwind, he'll occasionally drink ("I'm legal in Canada")—but never too much. After all, he doesn't want to become one of those teen stars. He says, "There's a thing in my head: Be careful. Be careful."
But with his new album, Mendes hopes fans will see a more mature side to him. He's aware of the image he's created: "Shawn Mendes the good boy. The kid who's super-sweet." And while "that's not a bad thing," he explains, "I also wanted people to understand that I'm human, too."
More than anything, Mendes says, "I just wanted to write about things that I've gone through."