Madonna recently opened up about the extreme difficulties, including being raped at knifepoint, she faced after first venturing to New York to persue her dreams.
In the open letter the pop icon penned for Harper's Bazaar, she says she felt strange and out of place growing up in a suburb in Rochester, Michigan.
"I didn't have many friends; I might not have had any friends. But it all turned out good in the end, because when you aren't popular and you don't have a social life, it gives you more time to focus on your future," she writes.
"And for me, that was going to New York to become a REAL artist. To be able to express myself in a city of nonconformists. To revel and shimmy and shake in a world and be surrounded by daring people."
But despite the fact that the city (and the people in it) did make her feel "daring," she also endured great hardships. Slipping almost into stream of consciousness, she explains:
"New York wasn't everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back, and had my apartment broken into three times. I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time."
But despite being "scared sh-tless and freaked out," she continued on. She describes herself then as "defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it."
Although we all now know that defiant and fearless Madge, she says there were moments when she felt lost.
"It was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going," she says.
"Sometimes I would play the victim and cry in my shoe box of a bedroom with a window that faced a wall, watching the pigeons sh-t on my windowsill. And I wondered if it was all worth it, but then I would pull myself together."
Today the Material Girl is still ever defiant and fearless; she is currently working on Art for Freedom, an online public art project to encourage free speech—and to protest persecution—around the world.