"I'm still growing into who I am and still figuring it out," Raven-Symoné tells PEOPLE

By Christina Dugan
July 08, 2020 12:00 PM
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Raven-Symoné is ready for her next chapter.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the singer-songwriter and actress, 34, opens up about her journey to self-discovery, coming to terms with her sexuality and taking control of her own narrative.

"I'm scared," she says. "I'm not used to putting my personal life out there."

After decades in the spotlight, Raven-Symoné is now embarking on a new life with her wife, Miranda Pearman-Maday, 32, and is making a statement with a new album, The Reintroduction, from which she is rolling out singles "slowly" over the next few weeks.

"If you really dive into the songs and read between the lines and all the things inside, I'm releasing anger, pain and grudges towards the entertainment industry, myself and others," she says. "It's a weight off my shoulders."

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Raven-Symoné

For Raven-Symoné, those raw emotions stem from years of feeling pressure to conform.

"My whole life is kind of based on what the industry wants," she says. "Other people controlled my hair, my eyebrows, my clothing, my words, everything."

Later, she recalls being body-shamed throughout the early 2000s.

"There was definitely a seesaw within my mind," she says. "I prevailed over it because at the end of the day, it's like, 'Come on, people, everybody's a different size.'"

Now, Raven-Symoné is finally "taking control" of her life and doing it on her own terms. "I push myself aside so much to make sure that my career is on point that I don't always take care of my mental health," she explains. "I'm still growing into who I am and still figuring it out."

On June 16, the Raven's Home actress surprised fans by revealing on Instagram that she recently married Pearman-Maday.

"Despite being someone who has kept my personal life private, I decided to share this moment because it's one of the biggest and happiest of my life," Raven-Symoné previously told PEOPLE. "Miranda makes me feel confident and empowered in an entirely new way. We planned our ceremony together and it was a true reflection of our love and partnership."

WATCH: Surprise! Raven-Symoné Marries Miranda Pearman-Maday in Intimate Wedding

As she grew older, Raven-Symoné knew her thoughts were "different" — particularly when it came to sexuality.

"I just remember an older person in my life saying, 'Oh my gosh, that guy's so cute. Look at him. That’s the kind of person you should be with," she recalls. "I'm like, 'Yeah, he's so cute, right?’ I was playing the role."

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Raven-Symoné
| Credit: Courtesy Disney Channel

But during her hiatus from show business is 2013, Raven-Symoné says she was able to discover and come to terms with her true, authentic self.

"What it did was help me with my sexuality," says Raven-Symoné. "I actually had time to think for myself and no one to tell me differently. It helped me realize that I'm kind of addicted to the industry because of the fact I had been in it for so long. I had to transform that addiction into something that is positive for me because I was getting very toxic to myself and others."

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Raven-Symoné
| Credit: Fred Lee/ABC/Getty

Now, a happy newlywed and ready to release her first album in 12 years (a "self-reflection" project of her "love for hip-hop, R&B, and meditation sound"), Raven-Symoné is proud of her journey thus far — and is looking forward to what comes next.

"I get to make new plans with a brilliant woman, and we get to create an empire for ourselves," she says. "We get to map out our future in ways that we want."

And for those who struggle with their self-identity, Raven-Symoné has words of encouragement. 

"It gets better," she says. "Just stick with it. Hang in there, bro, you’ll be fine."