The "Havana" singer and former Fifth Harmony member opens up about her childhood in PEOPLE's 2019 Beautiful Issue

By Dana Rose Falcone
April 19, 2019 10:05 AM
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Camila Cabello rocked the stage with her former band Fifth Harmony for three years, embarked on her first solo headlining tour in 2018 and performed at the Grammys twice. But the confident pop star fans see today admits to being introverted as a child.

“I used to be cripplingly shy,” Cuba-born Cabello, 22, tells PEOPLE in this year’s Beautiful Issue, where she’s named a Beauty of the Year. “I feel like even though I often pushed myself, I missed out on some life experiences, or didn’t enjoy them as much as I could’ve.”

Cabello describes her younger self as “very introverted, introspective, in my own little world a lot,” adding that she had a “big imagination” and “could be entertained or have fun by myself in my room.”

Cabello at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in L.A. on Feb. 10.
| Credit: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock

But at school in Miami, the “Havana” singer confesses she “was kind of invisible.”

“I had a drama-free upbringing,” she says. “But it was at times a little boring.”

RELATED VIDEO: Camila Cabello Talks Solo Stardom: ‘I Wanted to Do It My Way’

So if she could go back in time, Cabello would tell herself, “Get out of your comfort zone more. You’re stronger than you think.”

Confidence has come with age for Cabello. “I think I am learning the art of being chill — kinda,” she says.

The singer as a kid.
| Credit: Camilla Cabello/Instagram

But the two-time Grammy nominee always knew what mattered most to her.

“Of course there’s been times growing up that I felt insecure about something physically,” reveals Cabello, who will make her film debut as Cinderella in an upcoming version of the fairy tale. “But I’ve always known someone’s personality is the most important and most attractive or unattractive quality.”

For more from our Beautiful Issue, pick up the magazine when it hits newsstands on April 26 and check out all of our coverage on PEOPLE.com.