Justin Bieber remembers a time in the not-so-distant past where people laughed at him.
He was a punching bag for several years after a string of run-ins with the law, alleged unflattering texts to Selena Gomez, pissing in buckets and arrogantly winking at the camera during a deposition - people weren't thrilled with who The Bieber had become. Partly to blame is transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, but also his surroundings. Bieber realized this year he had to be around positive influences if he wanted people to take his music seriously again.
"I just want to be around people who I feel are supporting me, uplifting me, and making sure I'm the best version of myself because there are so many people in this industry who just want to keep seeing me fall," Bieber told Z100's Elvis Duran during his radio interview on Friday. His life is "about the music again."
It appears his efforts have paid off. Bieber released his new single "What Do You Mean" on Friday (Aug. 28), and it instantly shot up to No. 1 on iTunes.
Bieber admits perhaps he wasn't the best role model, but he's learned from his mistakes. "I mean, maybe I'm a bad influence, but for me I was like, no, I'm going to do this until I feel like I shouldn't be doing this," he said. "Maybe I was wrong, but that's how I learn, and I feel like I'm much better for it."
He says it took a "conscious effort" to make the necessary changes.
"For me, so many times it was good people coming in my life and tugging at me, but I wasn't ready," he explained. "They're like, 'Justin, come on.' But I wasn't ready to take that leap and be like, 'Okay, this is what I want to change, this is who I am, and this is not who I am.' It takes moments of clarity to be like, 'Oh, that's why I'm not like this. That's why I shouldn't do this.'"
Through his ups and downs, Bieber's learned it's hard to fully trust people - especially in an industry that's infamous for toxicity.
"Trusting people is hard, especially for me. I've trusted people who I probably shouldn't have trusted before and they've hurt my heart," he said. "I'm a pretty sensitive guy, so I'll lay it all on the line, and they'll kind of pull it. So now I'm figuring out there's certain people I can't do that with."
After all, JB is still human.
"I still have moments where I'm like, 'Yeah people suck,'" he admits. "And then I'll have those moments of like, 'No, people are awesome, and this is why I do what I do in the first place.'"
Bieber was recently spotted playing the piano for a Playboy playmate - asked if he was in love?
"Yes, I am in love...Her name is Esther, she's my little puppy!" he playfully quipped. "She's adorable. She's a silky terrier. She makes me smile."