She’s one the most accomplished artists in the world, but has admitted to having self-esteem issues. The Grammy Award-winning singer caught up with PEOPLE to talk about her autobiography More Myself and the near-paralyzing insecurities she’s carried since before she began an international superstar.

Alicia Keys Reveals Insecurities & "Putting On A Mask" Her Entire Life
Amy Sussman / Staff / Getty s

For years she said she “was building my life around this image perfection, and it was really oppressive… I was clearly a woman who wanted to talk about truth and empowerment and strength, but when I really looked at myself, I realized that my whole life I’ve kind been putting on a mask.”

In More Myself, Alicia Keys details how an absentee father affected her outlook and how as an adult, there was a point when she felt an “emptiness” due to stressors. During the rise her career, Keys also felt as if she was being manipulated into an image she wasn’t comfortable with.

“‘Open up your shirt a little,’ the photographer] directs while firing f a flurry snaps,” she said. “My spirit is screaming that something is wrong, that this feels slimy. ‘Pull the top your jeans down a bit in the front,’ he urges. I swallow my misgivings, tuck my thumb between the denim and my skin, and obey. On the day the cover’s debut, I pass a newsstand where the magazine is on display. I almost throw up.’” More Myself is available everywhere.