Jennifer Aniston Recalls How 'Expectations' in Personal Life 'Changed Overnight': It 'Was Jarring'

"I had a choice to make: Either I'm going to surrender into bonbons and living under my covers or I'm going to go out there and find a creative outlet and thrive, and that's what I did," says Aniston

Jennifer Aniston for The Hollywood Reporter
Photo: Photographed by Ruven Afanador

Jennifer Aniston is reflecting on going through "dark" times publicly and why she doesn't have regrets about her path toward the "woman that I am" today.

The actress opens up about the future she envisioned for herself post-Friends and how her personal life didn't turn out exactly to match that previous expectation in this week's cover story for The Hollywood Reporter.

"The career was one thing. I didn't know what was coming, and that's been nothing but blessed. ... It was more personal stuff that I had expectations about that sort of shape-shifted, so to speak," said Aniston, 52. "That was what was jarring, that we all had an idea of what the future was going to be and we were going to go hunker down and focus on this or that and then it all just changed overnight, and that was it."

"But again," she emphasized, "everything's a blessing if you're able to look at life's ups and downs in that way. And if it all hadn't happened, I would not be sitting here, the woman that I am."

Looking back, Aniston acknowledged that she has had a "godsend of support" surrounding her over the years that consists of "so many evolved, positive people."

"I also grew up watching someone sit comfortably in victimhood, and I didn't like how it looked. I knew that this person was giving me an example of what I'd never want to be, and I will never ever be that," she said. "I think it's toxic, and it erodes your insides and your soul. And listen, is it a sliver of an annoyance to have to publicly go through dark shit in front of the world? Yes, it's an inconvenience, but it's all relative."

"So I had a choice to make: Either I'm going to surrender into bonbons and living under my covers or I'm going to go out there and find a creative outlet and thrive, and that's what I did."

Jennifer Aniston for The Hollywood Reporter
Photographed by Ruven Afanador

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"It just happened to be with a movie called The Break-Up," she added with a laugh, referencing her 2006 rom-com with Vince Vaughn.

Aniston was married to Brad Pitt from 2000 to 2005. The exes have since rekindled their friendship, with Pitt attending her 50th birthday in 2019. He and Aniston also shared a friendly moment at the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards. The Morning Show actress was later married to Justin Theroux from 2015 to 2017.

She told PEOPLE in June that she is not looking to walk down the aisle again, but hopes to find a "fantastic partner."

"Oh God, I don't know," Aniston said at the time of getting married again. "It's not on my radar. I'm interested in finding a fantastic partner and just living an enjoyable life and having fun with one another. That's all we should hope for. It doesn't have to be etched in stone in legal documents."

RELATED VIDEO: Jennifer Aniston Hopes for Someone 'Not Necessarily in the Industry' for Next Relationship

As for the potential of online dating, Aniston said, "Absolutely no. I'm going to just stick to the normal ways of dating. Having someone ask you out. That's the way I would prefer it."

Aniston added that she is "blessed" in her life: "I'm in a really peaceful place. I have a job that I love, I have people in my life who are everything to me, and I have beautiful dogs. I'm just a very fortunate and blessed human being."

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