Photo: Sadao Turner/Ryan Seacrest Enterprises

Former Disney star-turned-platinum recording artist, Selena Gomez, successfully transitioned into the turf of pop music in 2008 with her band, The Scene, before launching her No. 1 debut solo album, Stars Dance, in 2013. But in recent years, the 22-year-old’s explosive career — including movie roles in Spring Breakers, Getaway, and Rudderless — almost received a total eclipse from her on-the-rocks relationship with Justin Bieber.

The “Come & Get It” singer has kept the truth and her feelings under lock and key, which only fueled a plethora of criticisms from tabloids and the rest of the world. However, early Thursday morning was greeted with an unexpected explanation from Selena in the form of her surprise single, “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” and its vulnerable music video.

The visual opens with a recording of Selena having an emotional breakdown about her relationship with the “Confident” singer, confessing, “You make me feel crazy, you make feel like it’s my fault. I was in pain.”

“They taped the mic underneath the table when I was shooting the video,” Selena tells On Air with Ryan Seacrest, on the verge of tears. “And I had shot the video over a year ago. So, in that state — where I was in that place emotionally — I went in and I went into the room by myself, and I looked at the actual mirror in the music video, and I had a conversation [with] myself to every question I had in my mind in that moment: ‘Wow, this feeling changes everything and you can’t help it.'”

Since publicly confirming their relationship at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2011, Selena and the “Boyfriend” singer received the trappings of a Hollywood power couple: A 24-hour surveillance which spawned countless speculations and unwanted opinions on their coupling. The Justin-Selena relationship — or the fandom named “Jelena” — began to snowball into an unpopular relationship as Justin’s behavior began to oppose Selena’s well-composed veneer.

Sadao Turner/Ryan Seacrest Enterprises

“Everybody wants to form their own opinions anyway. I think the biggest problem I had this year — even with [Justin] and on his side — is identity,” she said about her back-and-forth relationship. “I was trying to figure out what I’m doing, and that was the first time I was constantly being kicked down for doing that. When I didn’t know, I just wanted to say, ‘This is what I want, this is where I am in my professional life, things changed in my personal life, things changed in my heart — everything.’ And people just thought, ‘Alright, this is what we think.’ And yeah, I made some decisions that weren’t great as well, and so did he and that’s why we went through all that to only make us better. And he has heard [the song] and he has seen the video, and it’s something that I feel like girls need hear, and it’s something I’m willing to share with people.”

The “Slow Down” singer says the autobiographical cut was approved by the Canadian singer himself. “He thought it was beautiful. I think it was really hard. I think he was a little jealous of the video guy at first,” she jokes, and continues to explain the omnipresent struggle mentioned in the track. “Honestly, music is an expression, and if you will be that voice for these girls, there are some people that feel this. This is universal.”

Her best friend Taylor Swift, who has been attempting to convince the “Who Says” singer to make the bold uproot from Los Angeles to New York City, was also one of the few people who heard the secret project ahead of its official release.

“She loved it. She’s very dramatic and I love her so much,” she says. “So she came over to the house, and I played it. She had headphones in, and she watched the video, and then she just looked at me, then she looked back, and then played it three times over and over again. And I’m like, ‘I want to know,’ and she was like, ‘Oh my God. This is amazing. I’m so excited for you.'”

Sadao Turner/Ryan Secrest Enterprises

Days leading up to the song’s unveiling was stoked with Instagram photos and cryptic captions, suggesting a project that was closely guarded until the right moment: “As I have a last listen, I thought a lot about my year. I thought a lot about my voice. And after a year of holding on. I think it’s time to start sharing.” With a tumultuous start to her year, Selena is planning on moving forward into 2015 with a clean slate, using “The Heart Wants What It Wants” as a pivotal closure.

“The video was supposed to come out three times and through coincidence or through changes [in my life], it just didn’t happen. And it’s also a step for me knowing like, ‘Ok, this is what I’m about to say, and I need to say it when I’m ready,'” she says. “And I think after this year, it’s the perfect way to end the year, it’s the perfect way to end a chapter in a way. It’s like, this is what I’ll say about every single person that has judged me for every decision that I’ve made, for every person, [and] heart that is being judge for something they’ve done, and now I just want to release it. I want to keep going and I want to work on things and have all the focus just be on what I love and have fun, and new music, and a new chapter in my life. I’m excited.”

Sadao Turner/Ryan Seacrest Enterprises

Claiming to be “at peace now,” Selena reflects on her year and speaks with hindsight, revealing the lessons she learned through the media blitz and her personal experiences.

“[I learned] how to love myself first. And not just in a relationship, just my everyday life,” she admits. “I give myself so much, I let people pull at me in every direction, and I want everybody to be happy. Eventually I would be in my bathroom sobbing right before I go onstage. And then I’d just put myself onstage and I’d want to be there for those people. I never took a moment to just go, go away and be myself and figure it out. I kept pushing myself and I think the biggest thing I learned is, it’s okay. I’m going to stop when I need to stop, I’m going to feel when I need to feel, and I don’t care what comes with that or what people want to say. It’s normal. I’m suppose to keep going and that’s all I want to do.”

As for her current relationship status with the 20-year-old pop-R&B artist, she says, “I support him. I think I always will. I’m upset when he’s upset, I’m happy when he’s happy. I don’t want anything bad ever happen to him. It hurts me. That’s all.”

Sadao Turner/Ryan Seacrest Enterprises

During a lighter segment consisting of fan questions submitted via Twitter, the starlet announced her plans to return to the small screen, with a few projects already in development.

“Yes, eventually. I think TV has just gotten so bomb, and I’m starting to develop a few TV shows,” she teases. “It’s just fun. I love that world. I’d go back.”

As for a follow-up album to Stars Dance, she reveals, “I have been in the studio this entire year. So, I have had a lot of fun just playing and just having fun. Whether it was with the old music and incorporating new music and just writing for fun in my mind, in my heart, or whatever.

“I think it was just time,” she adds, and continues by hinting at a new project in her new chapter. “I wanted ["The Heart Wants What It Wants"] to kind of be the wrap of the year and then next year, I’ll have some really great stuff.”

Selena, who is slated to perform at the American Music Awards on November 23 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, has made “The Heart Wants What It Wants” available for download on iTunes here. The single is off her greatest hits album For You, out on November 24.

Sadao Turner/Ryan Seacrest Enterprises