Sabrina Carpenter On Finding Her Light During ‘Really Dark Times’

Summer Cartwright
Sabrina Carpenter On Finding Her Light During ‘Really Dark Times’
Photo: Image: MEGA; Adobe. Design: Sasha Purdy / StyleCaster

Sabrina Carpenter doesn’t have to directly say it, but she does. It’s been a tough two years.

“Sometimes I think to myself, ‘Wow I made it through yesterday.’ I really do think the last couple of years of my life have been kinda like that continuously. I’ve been really shocked at my resilience and my perseverance,” she says, adding “as things get harder and more confusing and trivializing, it’s a really beautiful moment with yourself to know that you are capable of pushing through really tough times and always being able to find the light moments even in those really dark times. That’s something I’ve been trying to do more of recently.” 

The singer and actress doesn’t go into specifics about what led to those tough times, but it’s easy to guess. Which, honestly, as an outsider and stranger, feels extremely invasive to admit. It’s not normal for somebody’s private life to be so, well, public. So highly publicized that you can read between the extremely vague lines they present in an interview. It’s not normal to know these details so well that you can probably present them at the drop of a hat, since you learned about them through learning the lines of songs you love so much, they filled out half of the top 10 slots in your Spotify Wrapped. I’m talking, of course, about the speculation that she’s the subject of many Olivia Rodrigo songs.

But there isn’t blame or anger in Carpenter’s voice when she tiptoes around discussing the harder times she’s made it through. In fact, the only thing really recognizable is how mature and introspective her present-day point of view is.

Every time I’ve been in a situation that’s been very low, there’s always been an after,” she said. “I do try to remind myself of that. It is hard, though.”

It’s clear that now, she’s in that “after” phase. With new music out and a potential tour (that she didn’t confirm is coming, but also didn’t not confirm is coming) in the works, Carpenter is showcasing a side to her that a lot of people—myself included—might not have known was there. That side I’m talking about is a Singer with a very intentional capitalized S. The star is as petite as it gets, but my does she have pipes. And though she’s young, she’s got soul.

At a kickoff event for Samsung’s new Galaxy Creator Collective, a network of creators across industries who learn from each other, Carpenter performed for the first time in front of a crowd in a few years with just a guitarist by her side. Whether it was the voicy ‘Fast Times’ or conversational ‘Skinny Dipping’ she showcased her ability to not only nail higher, more powerful notes but also time out breathwork like the professional that she really is. She created an atmosphere that was equal parts intimate and awe-spiring. After all, it’s not every day that you’re just a few feet from somebody with such talent. It’s hard not to be aware of that, even when she’s making the same type of sarcastic remarks and self-deprecating jokes that’s your best friends do at brunch on the weekends.

That kind of humor makes sense when you take into account that Sabrina’s the youngest sister of four—any younger sister knows that there were probably more than a few years of her life being the butt of the joke. But along with keeping her level-headed, her family are part of the reason why she’s so in touch with herself and her strength, she says.

“Watching my older sisters be able to come back from things that weren’t easy for them, and especially my mom, I look at the way I am now and I feel like a lot of it has to do with my childhood view and perception of things,” Sabrina explained. Watching women in music and cinema helps, too, she added. Especially Rihanna in Oceans 8. “Every time I’m low and I watch that movie, I’m fine after.”

If that movie’s not on deck, though, she has other ways of getting out of her own head.

I get the most anxiety is when I’m zoomed in and I’m so focused on so many little different things, and the second I go ‘wait, pause,’ it’s a lot easier to realize that some things are not so great, but some things are better,” Sabrina said. “Life is too short to allow outside forces inside and to allow them to affect your life and your journey. The more that you listen to other people’s opinions, you really make your choices based off of them, you’re going to be living with those choices in the future, not them. If it’s not the things that you want, and the choices that you want to make, you’re going to get yourself in a bit of trouble.”

Suffice to say, she’s made it through moments that would’ve sent most of us spiraling into isolation or silence. But lately Sabrina’s focusing on what’s making her happy—making music, listening to her Marvin Gaye record and spending time with the people she loves. She’s averaging nearly 11 million monthly Spotify listeners, has 27 million Instagram followers, is starring and producing Netflix’s take on Alice in Wonderland and is releasing new music.

It seems as though her voice is stronger than ever.

“I do believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Always,” she said. “It’s just something that I’ve seen time and time again.”