Kelly Clarkson Gives Her 'American Idol' Self Some Advice

'I think I would have told myself to enjoy it more,' Stronger singer says of her early career.

It's been close to a decade since Kelly Clarkson became the first-ever American Idol. In the years since her 2002 win on the show, she's become a pop star who's known for her big voice and empowering pop anthems. Five albums and multiple hit songs later, Clarkson has some perspective on her career.

"I think I can be a very serious person, so I think me taking everything so to heart ... especially when I first started out, anytime I slipped on a note or forgot a word or I'd do something wrong, that wasn't huge, [but] it was just like, it wasn't perfect. I was very much a perfectionist," she explained. "And I fight that still, but I'm a lot easier now."

That more relaxed attitude shows in the advice she would give her younger self. "I wish I could tell myself 'Enjoy it' because an emotional performance is way better than a perfect performance," she explained. "I think I would have told myself to enjoy it more."

Clarkson released her latest album, Stronger, this week, and her newfound confidence is definitely reflected in the album title.

"There were a few different titles that were going around, and I think the reason why we came up with Stronger was just because every song was about empowerment and almost, like, overcoming stuff," she explained. "So, even if it was a bad situation and a sad song, it was about overcoming that. So by the end of the song, it's kind of more inspiration than sad. So I think that's why [we named it that], and I think after 10 years of doing it, you feel a little stronger personally and musically. People know you better. It's just easier, I think."