Anthony Mandler
May 12, 2015 10:00 AM

Justin Bieber spent a tough few years in the spotlight and admits even he wasn’t happy with himself during that time.

“I was rebelling a little bit. I was getting cockier and cockier. I didn’t have people to check me,” Bieber tells Seventeen of his past mistakes in the magazine’s June/July issue. “I looked back and I was disappointed in myself.”

The singer – who has been apologizing over the past few months for his bad decisions – admits, “You have to own up to the mistakes.”

“You have to say, ‘I’m sorry if I’ve let you down,’ ” Bieber, 21, explains. “I always want to be honest and let people know that those mistakes aren’t who I am. Who I am is someone who really cares about people.”

And the star – who has been a global phenom ever since he shot to fame at 13 – says he was consumed with approval from social media for a bit.

For a while, I was busy looking at my Instagram likes, and if a post didn’t get a certain amount, I was like, ‘Aw, they didn’t like the photo,’ ” Bieber, who has 27 million Instagram followers, admitted.

He adds: “But there’s always a choice: You can let Instagram or stuff on the Internet affect your day, or you can choose to not be bothered by it.”

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Now, Bieber is focusing on surrounding himself with people who won’t pass judgment on him.

“I need healthy relationships with people I can feel safe with,” he shares. “People I can say whatever to, and I’m not going to be judged.”

Justin Bieber
Anthony Mandler

As far as a girlfriend, Bieber – who was in an on-and-off relationship with Selena Gomez – seems to know exactly what he’s looking for.

“In a girl, I want someone who’s confident in herself and honest,” he says. “I have to find her very attractive and as someone I can see myself with for the rest of my life.”

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