"I felt like I had no idea who I was or what I wanted or what I was going after," she recalls.
Vanessa Hudgens has experienced quite a bit in her 30 years on Earth: She launched to global stardom after starring in "High School Musical," she was once one-half of one of the most famous couples in the world, and she mistakenly thought she was confident sans-makeup at the tender age of 19.
Didn't we all?
The actress returned to People for their "Beautiful Issue," 10 years after telling the mag she "just recently learned to be okay with myself without wearing makeup."
"Lie! That is such a lie!" she said in a behind-the-scenes interview of her shoot for this year's issue, while holding the 2009 issue. "I did not feel great about [not] wearing makeup. I feel like just last year I started to feel good without wearing makeup. So that is a lie."
"It's so funny when you see old pictures of yourself because you're like, 'This Vanessa thought that she had it to-ge-ther. She thought she had life figured out, it was smooth sailing,'" she continued. "And I look back on myself and I'm like, 'I was so lost.' Blowing up with 'High School Musical' and having so many eyes on me -- it was really exciting, but with that came just wanting to be a recluse."
Hudgens said she soon realized living life away from everyone and everything was unrealistic, adding that the day she turned 27, she experienced a "midlife crisis."
"I remember waking up at 27, and that was the first moment where I was like, 'Oh. I am not a kid. I'm not a teenager. I'm an adult, and I have responsibilities,'" she recalled. "I felt like I had no idea who I was or what I wanted or what I was going after. I'm very grateful for it because then it forced me to reassess who I am and what I believe in, therefore giving me just a better understanding of myself. Now that I've reached 30, it's so nice feeling free to just speak your mind."
Hudgens said she's learned to love herself and embrace her natural face because it's "the only one I got, so I have to be good to it."
In keeping with the theme, the actress said the best beauty advice she ever received was to drink water.
"Drink so much water," she urged. "Drink way more water than you think you need to drink because it just helps flush everything out, keeps the toxins down, keeps your skin healthy and glowing."
So what exactly would Hudgens tell her 19-year-old self? "Give yourself the time you deserve."
For more from Vanessa Hudgens, pick up "The Beautiful Issue" of People, on newsstands this Friday.
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